Saturday, January 22, 2011

Four days before turning five

She'll be five on Wednesday, a big number, a whole hand's fingers number, an easy math number, a grow up and go to kindergarten number. She comes down the stairs from her nap, the one she still sometimes needs but often doesn't, and she sees me in the armchair. Without waiting for an invitation she climbs up on me, folds herself briefly in my arms and under my chin. When she sits upright on my lap, her face is above mine. I have to look up to stare into those blue eyes that are almost five.

I did it, she says quietly with a small smile spreading across her face. We've been working on a goal, she and I, a long-term, takes lots of practice kind of goal, a task to be mastered kind of goal. What it is doesn't matter, as far as you and I are concerned, because she is almost five, and it's time that I give more care to allowing some of her story to be kept to herself. But I wrinkle my nose at her in a happy return smile and I begin to tell her I'm proud of her when we're interrupted.

Na na na na na Na Na na NA! squeals her brother from the space beneath the coffee table. The "n" is a new sound out of her brother's mouth, freshly appeared this morning, and it's pulled up a chair and wrapped itself in an afghan and called in for takeout. The "n" is the happy houseguest you're so excited at first to greet, until you realize he might never leave. Na na NA NA na Na NA! "M" and "b" are already plotting how to poison "n"'s eggroll.

"You see him?" I say to E. Her brother has popped up from under the table, where he'd chased an errant rugelach* and now he's upright, all six-toothed grin and cinnamon-flecked drool. Na! he yells, holding up the ruggie, as his other sister calls them, by way of explanation and victory. In his other hand is an empty playdoh container.

She looks at him from her vista just above mine. "I remember when you were like that," I tell her. "I remember when you were even littler than that."

She looks at him dubiously. I used to chew on playdoh bottles? "Well, no," I laugh. "Because when you were that little we didn't have playdoh stored on the hearth like we do now. You were our first baby, so when you were that little, we didn't have any playdoh at all." She looks at me pityingly.

He uses the coffee table to pull himself to standing and momentarily, he lets go. Na NA! He's experimenting with standing, big kid stuff, look ma, no hands. He's eleven months and nine days old and he can stand a little bit. She's five years minus four days old and says to me, I don't remember when I was too little to know how to walk.

But I do, love. I remember.
*Traditional Jewish rolled cookie
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