Bewitched

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She screams with joy, breaks loose from me, and races toward “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley.” More screaming and hugging, as if they had not parted from each other a bare two hours ago, and before that, as if they had not spent the whole day together. We become invisible—the only reality in the school Halloween party is the presence of “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley”—everything else is a swirl of dust, a nothingness. She does not see anybody or anything else. Her happiness, her whole being, it seems, now depends on “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley.” With them, there is joyful life. Without them, only deadly dullness and despair.

It goes beyond ordinary friendship. A couple of my family members had friends like that, where the pure pleasure and joy derived from being with someone transcended everything, everything, else. I can’t remember it, for myself. I had and have close friends, friends whose company and conversation I enjoy, yes, who I would go out of my way for (for a short while) to see them. But nothing like this, this sparkling enchantment. In a school full of children, she only sees “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley,” only does what they want to do (they don’t like dancing, so the Princess, born dancing, doesn’t want to dance either). I can never remember either doing something or not doing something because of what some other friend wanted. For my father, I have done, but never for a peer. Not as a child, not as an adult.

Back to “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley,” the enchantresses of my daughter’s heart. But I will not blame them for my daughter’s bewitchment. I must accept that there will always be a “Mary-Kate” and “Ashley” in my daughter’s life, if not these two, then some other ones. And I must choose my plots and tactics with care and delicacy.

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