“I’m a GIRL!” my 2-year-old declared matter-of-factly with bouncing blonde curls as if someone had told her otherwise.
(This hilarious toddler vacillates back and forth between sweet-as-honey and stern football coach, and this moment was the latter.)
“O.K.!” I affirmed. “You certainly are.”
“And Kate’s a girl and you’re a girl,” — she paused — “And she’s a BABY,” she said pointing to the 10-month-old.
“She is a baby,” I affirmed, “and a girl.”
She nodded emphatically, satisfied that she had made her point, and returned to putting the “hat” (a whale-shaped bathtub toy) on her “baby” (a plastic walrus). Then she put the hat on me — which obviously means it’s my birthday and a song ensued loudly:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR MOMMMMYYYYYY…
And around we went: whale-shaped hat on me, on her, on Kate — Happy Birthday! to everyone.
“Want me to make you cake?” she asked sweetly (when desserts are involved, even imaginary, she always uses her sweet-as-honey tone.)
“Yes!” I agreed. So she mixed up a little something here and then a little something there and voila! Cake time.
Kate is great at eating imaginary cake. She scoops up the air as if it were a bowl of pure chocolate icing, pops the pretend cake in her mouth, closes her eyes, and lets out a complimentary: Mmmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmmmm. She goes back for more.
The boys — Daddy and the 5-year-old — were at a basketball game, so it was just these girls and I — making cake, fitting hats for walruses, and looking for shapes in the evening clouds. I spotted one: a heart! So apropos for Valentine’s Day “week.” I laid back against the concrete patio for a better view, when suddenly it was blocked by three curious, grinning faces in front of mine, eager to tackle the fallen Mommy.
“One, two,” I said, counting heads.
“Three!” Kate finished with a smile.
These little moments with these Little Women — they prepare all of us for the big moments to come. The big responsibilities and decisions that go into raising girls. Sometimes I find myself thinking too much about the years ahead — when really, there’s more than enough important stuff to think about right now: like cake and birthday hats and being little.
And anyway, I am still a “Little” Woman in many ways myself. Growing as they grow. Learning as they learn. Becoming who, God-willing, I am supposed to be — just as they are.
“Don’t try to make me grow up before my time.”
? Louisa May Alcott, Little Women