Val, pointing to the back cover of one of her books, where other books were pictured: What does this one say?
Me: "The Ugly Duckling"
Val, sincerely: What does 'ugly' mean?
Me, stunned and simultaneously grateful she had to ask: Not pretty.
Val, considering: Ugly... ugly... why did the mother think the duckling was ugly?
Me: She didn't. The story-teller did. All good mommies know their babies are beautiful.
Val, nodding, then smiling: Oh... well I think it's kind of furry and cute and fluffy. I like it.
Me: I do, too.
I was six when the neighbor girls called me ugly.