Lin-Manuel Miranda debuted a new animated musical last week on Netflix about a kinkajou (basically a rainforest raccoon) who’s on a journey to deliver a love song for a friend. If you’re not familiar with Miranda, he’s the creator of Broadway shows such as “In the Heights” and “Hamilton: An American Musical.” He’s kind of a big deal, and now so it seems is his latest, “Vivo.”
I’m a Miranda fan, having seen both “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” performed on the stage, so I was excited to have something to share with my 7-year-old daughter that was more on her level. The music and lyrics are just as creative as I expected they’d be, and of course Miranda nails it as the voice of “Vivo.” However, it’s the young girl he befriends that almost steals the show, and who my Cora especially loves. Gabi is a purple-haired little spark plug, voiced by Ynairaly Simo, and her anthem song, “My Own Drum” isn’t the central theme of the movie, but it’s a good one.
I’ve written before about Cora’s mini-concerts during car rides to school, and “My Own Drum” has been on repeat for more than a week now. In it Gabi sings lines such as, “I bounce to the beat of my own drum, I’m a wow in a world full of ho-hum, I’m a wild young lady but you know, ‘sum? I’d rather be at home with my own drum.”
Cora loves the strong melody, the heavy beat, the somewhat cacophony of sounds, and she jams out in a way I’ve never heard her jam before. It’s extraordinary. And although I don’t think she truly understands exactly what she’s exalting, anyone that’s spent more than five minutes with Cora knows this is the anthem for her.
Cora is a textbook extrovert, and while parenting multiple kids is tricky, it’s especially difficult when an extrovert comes last into a family full of introverts. So while my husband and teenage daughter and I come home at the end of the day and want to spread out and have some quiet time to regroup, Cora is the little girl doing handstands in the living room and talking non-stop. She’s building forts at 6 a.m. on the weekends, talking non-stop. She’s dragging out all the blocks because she never wants to play in the playroom, because she wants someone to talk to non-stop.
This girl talks non-stop.
But she also has the most infectious laugh. Her fiery red hair paired with brown eyes has drawn the attention of strangers since she was a newborn, and that giggle will draw a smile from even the grumpiest-looking person in the grocery store. She finds joy in even the most mundane tasks, like waiting in the car before a music lesson. All of her emotions are big, which means she experiences big anger and big sadness … and big love. She gives the best hugs, y’all.
While I’ve continually tried to remind myself over the years that she is different from her older sister, I think part of me has always hoped she’d eventually fall more into the category of “easy parenting.” It’s difficult to admit this, because in a way it means I was hoping my daughter would change, but in reality I would never change this stubborn young lady who might some day change the world.
She’s certainly changed mine.
It’s no secret that Cora was one of the best surprises of my life, and I only hope that I continually at least try to see the world as she sees it, and to at least try to live in the world as she lives in it. Because she is most certainly a “wow in a world full of ho-hum,” and what better way is there to be?
* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on August 14, 2021 *