You and your Sixness, girl, they coalesce in a thought-pebble I turn over and over all day. I wear it smooth with the tendrils of my musings, turning it over and over, finding here a new streak of something shiny, there a soft spot I hope won’t one day crack. I expect I’ll burnish it golden like the nose-nubbins of public art sculptures or mermaids on fountains, woodland creatures cast in metal for children to climb in parks, bodies green or brown but somewhere on each, a touching spot, bright gold with the love and curiosity of a million tiny fingers. I expect I’ll wear away the patina and buff up a shiny radiant patch with my understanding-your-Sixness of it all…just about the time you turn Seven. This is how it goes.
When you were a little thing and I tried to envision your future bigness I never saw this far, not into the land of On-My-Own, this kindergarten business that takes you hours of the day away from us into a building you inhabit as yours but not ours, a society where we’re only fringe members, spectators peering over the fence and leads to greater pastures, first grade and middle school and summers away, will you attend those summer camps, my love? and college, months or years or forever in buildings not ours where fences grow taller and bear fewer peep-holes. I couldn’t draw the walls of this life when it was still future-dream, and now I know that’s because you hold the pencils; we’ve graduated from an eight-color crayon box with pigments hewn squat for chubby fists, and this is for my own protection as much as your burgeoning identity. I’ve known women fall apart when their babies leave for college, not knowing themselves without their littles-grown-large, and the small fences now I lose you across are practices for my heart. These are the minerals to mine from Sixness.
You are not small, anymore, my love. Your clothes come from the “Big Girl” side of the store. Your cheeks have grown narrow, your eyes have developed an amusing tendency to roll, and your language is peppered with accurately-used slang. You toss your hair in frustration and complete sudoku puzzles for sport.
So it’s established by now, here at the juncture of Six and Everything That Happens Next: you are Big. You act Big and look Big and speak Big-going-on-Bigger. And one of my roles, I guess, as the crossing guard at this walkway is to be agreeable about all this Bigness. I have to affirm your perpetual enlarging and say “yes, go, climb to the next spot even further yet away from me and I won’t be sad about it, so don’t you either and don’t look back” even if those words are lies in my throat as I utter them. I would never trap you in this age, but successfully feigning complete confidence for the next one is the pebble I haven’t figured out how to grasp yet. And all this time I thought I had to do that for you, and in this year I learned that acting so for you is only half of the objective. The other half is acting so for you which is so you will go forth and I may see that you have gone forth well and all of this, it’s a circle feeding faith for me.
And that’s why pebbles are built of curves, so you can trace with your thought tendrils again and again and again.
That word, ‘yet.’ Comedies and tragedies and galaxies-distant stars still forming live on the precipice of ‘yet.’ Whole lives, yours included. And yet: for all your bigness and more growing--
last night you and your sister and brother had reason to be in costume. You were a ballerina, elegant and demure, pastel and a little transparent at the edges, and it wasn’t just the tulle. For an instant (just an instant) I saw a glimpse of pebbles past: your head down filled out your cheeks and your bare arms show the last softness of baby fat and the way you stood, skirt swept out, jutting your feet into what you imagine a ballet pose to be, that last soft spot of belly came forward. A favorite writer calls them frog bellies, those small kid bellies that pop forth until Bigness carries them away and only evocative tulle can conjure them back.
This wasn’t the real you, this Small girl, just costuming and a trick of the light, maybe, a pebble long skipped and sunk across the pool of our shared narrative, but for a moment there you were, the You of You Past. Inside my innermost heart of hearts I took a deep breath for the pain-joy ecstasy of seeing her again.
And then she was gone.
I'm linking this up as a Bigger Picture Moment.