Madame Sylvia Part 2
“I am Muh-dahm Seal-vee-a. I haff come from fahr avay to read to your shield-rehn. I haff heard zay are very vell-behafed. Faht ah zeir names?)
With a perfectly straight face, he introduced them each by name. “Say hello to Madame Sylvia, children,” then excused himself (by now he was nearly shaking with laughter) to leave the four small people in the living room with Madame Sylvia. She ordered them to sit in a circle at her feet, which they promptly did. After asking a few questions—without once dropping her thick accent, an essential part of her disguise—about what they had done that day, she accepted the storybook from the oldest child and opened it. “I can see you are good children and would never make an interruption.” She read aloud in a blissfully silent room.
After she finished the book, she closed it and asked one to tell their father she was leaving. When he reappeared, she walked to the door. “You have such polite children, but I must leave now. It was lovely to meet you all.” ( . . . It vuz luffly to meet you all.)
“Will you come again, Madame Sylvia?”
“Perhaps . . . we’ll see. Goodbye.”
I waited until I rounded the corner of the house to take off the costume, knowing that the children were being escorted upstairs to bed and would not be looking out the window. In just a couple minutes I tiptoed through the back door looking exactly the way I had looked before my transformation. I rushed upstairs to kiss everyone goodnight.
“Oh, good! I got back in time to kiss you goodnight.”
“Mommy, guess what happened!” the three year-old began.
The four year old interrupted. “This lady came and read to us.”
“Really? Why?” I asked.
“She travels to houses . . . it was our turn . . . she only reads to good children . . . we were good.
“Well, I’m glad you were good! Do you remember what her name was?”
“Madame Sylvia,” answered the four-year old, imitating her accent perfectly. “She talked funny . . ..”
“. . . but she was nice.” The six year old, who had been standing in her brother's bedroom doorway, finished his sentence. “I sat right next to her . . . she let me turn the pages.”
I was surprised no one had yet asked the obvious question. I quickly explained my absence. “It’s too bad I had to run to the store. I would have enjoyed meeting her”
“She looked a little bit like you, but . . ..”
“It wasn’t you . . .you don’t have clothes like that.”
“Can you describe what she looked like?” I asked, to divert the sting of a direct fib.
Everyone talked at once—even the eighteen-month-old repeated words from his crib across the hall. “Purple and long . . . purpo . . . bathrobe and blue hat . . . she talked loud. . . sparkly earwings . . . floppy scarf. . . and green shoes, too. Yeah, . . . Mommy doesn’t have green shoes, so it couldn’t be Mommy . . . but she looked kinda like her . . . sort of . . . ‘cept Mommy doesn’t talk like that . . . nah, it wasn’t Mommy cuz Daddy would have recognized her.”
“She sounds like an interesting woman. I hope I can meet her someday. Now, let’s get to sleep, everyone!” I kissed my four now-well-behaved children, closed all three bedroom-doors and descended the stairs to the family room.
“What on earth made you think of that?” my husband asked, chuckling. And was it possible I’d really fooled them? Maybe we all needed a little magic now—especially now—after their Nana’s death.