“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
She sat before me in the boat, which was really a raised garden bed not yet planted in. All of two years old with natural Shirley Temple curls that fall from the ends of her golden hair, she looked at me very matter-of-factly:
“Mama, I’m making soup.”
“Mmm,” I responded.
Kate came bounding down from the patio where she had been organizing sidewalk chalk and plopped down beside me with a heavy sigh, accompanied by a beaming smile. “Hello,” she said.
“Hi Kate,” I said, “Your little sister is making us soup.”
The chef was finished. One bird-shaped bathtub-toy-turned-backyard toy full of dirt, ahem, I mean soup for Kate. One for me. One for the mini chef.
“Here you go,” she said sweetly.
“What kind of soup do we have here?” I asked.
She wiped the dirt from her forehead with more dirt from her hands, leaving a perfectly paint-brushed streak and answered: “Kate has carrot soup. You have tomatoes and dressing. I have carrots and hummus.”
“Oh, yum!” I responded taking a big pretend bite.
“Ask me what I have in my bowl, Mommy,” she pleaded gently in the high-pitched voice of a precocious, new-talker.
“What do you have?” I obliged.
“NO!” She responded with a furrowed brow. Her face softened to my playful, puzzled expression.
“Ask me what I have, Mommy,” she pleaded again.
More cautiously I advanced, asking slowly, “What… do you have…?”
“NO!” She responded again. This time she couldn’t help to let a little snicker out from her “mad-face.” It made me snicker, too. Her face softened again.
“I have carrots and hummus,” she replied as though she had never told me.
I barely had time to take another “bite,” when up the hill she went.
I turned to talk to Kate, who was dipping her finger in her carrot soup, when I heard a little voice singing:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MOMMY!!!! (We obviously like playing “birthday” around here.)
I looked up and there she was, walking slowly, concentrating deeply, carrying a piece of wood from the in-progress garden fence.
“Here Mommy,” she plopped it into my hands, “Open your present!”
I went to open it.
“But close your eyes!”
Ah, well, that makes it a bit more tricky to unwrap.
“What is it?!” I said excitedly once the wrapping was off.
“It’s… a ROCK,” she said proudly.
Ah, a rock in a piece of wood. What a lovely gift.
She handed me another small “present” to open.
I started to unwrap —
“Close your eyes!”
Again, I closed my eyes.
Then I opened them and gasped, “What is it?!”
“It’s… JUICE!” she said proudly.
She proceeded to pour the juice for Kate, her and I into our soup bowls now turned juice cups.
We all took sips of our orange juice — I was informed it was orange — in unison and giggled at each other. How delicious —
“Juice is done!” she said abruptly, hurried to move on.
“Can I have a bit more?” I asked.
“No,” she responded calmly.
“But it’s my birthday?”
“It’s not your birthday,” she said knowingly.
“No, Mommy, it’s not.”
She gathered the presents and piled them into her Tonka dump truck to push out of the garden. Before leaving, she turned to me kindly and said,
“Bye, Mommy… Good luck.”
“Thanks..?” I said blowing her a kiss.
And off she went — full of imagination and joy and soup, singing to herself:
“It’s not your birthdayyy… it’s not your birthdayyy…”
And Kate turned to me and giggled, still enjoying the last sip of her juice.
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” — Thoreau