Saturday, February 28, 2009

The drama of bedtime

Last night, I exceeded all of my past performances of Phoebe Gilman's Jillian Jiggs in the girls' room.

I was as animated as Jillian Jiggs herself being an impolite pirate or the pampered royalty or some loud monsters. My diction was as enviable as that of Fancy Nancy, even. I especially loved my portrayal of the hardworking and tired mother. (I think I brought something personal to that role.)

I became each role as fervently as I could because I knew something hinged upon the varying intonation of my voice, upon my ability to stay in each character: I needed the rapt attention of a nearly-two-year-old.

It's a long-ish picture book, 40 pages, intended for children between the ages of five and eight. But she sat there, on my lap, and took it all in and I like to think that it's because, right up to the end, I had captured the almost-inimitable personality of Jillian. But it might have been because she was drinking a bottle.

Anyway, the book's web introduction says that no one can keep up with Jillian Jiggs. "With boundless energy and imagination, Jillian rushes from game to game," after all. "One minute she's a robot, the next minute she's a tree." This is what I had expected of myself. This is what I thought I had given.

I closed the book with a sense of satisfaction.

"Well, how did you like my rendition?"

"It wasn't even the book I wanted," moaned Devyn.

"I think your Rachel and Peter need some work. They're like the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of Jillian Jiggs . . ." Keith began.

Imagine my hair standing straight up on my head, each curly strand morphing into one of Medusa's snakes.

"I'm not really in the mood to critique Jillian Jiggs," I huffed.

"Goodnight, girls. I love you."

I exited stage right.


Jillian Jiggs.

Phoebe Gilman.

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