We go shopping. Just us girls. It's nothing special, the post office, Kinko's, Target, but the Girl wants to tag along and so I let her. As we walk she stays right beside me and the stroller. I notice her watching us walk together in the various reflections. She is studying me today, she is learning a lesson. There is no running off to jump off of things or to get to the highest point as there usually is. She stays close and walks soberly rehearsing the days events. "First we go to Kinko's, then we go to the post office to mail uncle AJ's birthday present and then to Target!"
Once in Target she helps me remember our list. "Contact solution, contact paper, tortillas, and hair clips!"
The last is always triumphant.
She deliberates over colors and styles of hair clips and I marvel at how decisive she is, how sure of what she wants. I try to trip her, up, producing the same choices in different orders, upside down, making sure that she doesn't just like those because she saw them last, or first. But she chooses the one she wants every time. She knows what she wants for a snack too. And she knows how to stand still in a dressing room while I try on a few tops, and she can keep the Baby entertained too.
I wonder when it was that she grew up like this.
I am walking toward the living room. It is bedtime and I am kid wrangling. Directly in front of me, arms stretched out straight to the sides is the Boy. Across the room, as a sort of magnified image, arms outstretched, is the GH. Together they are circling their arms to strengthen the shoulder muscles. My husband and his mini me. And then they do push ups together, and the boy manages 15 with perfect form, nose touching the ground. But he is trying for 30, and after 15 his bum starts to creep into the air and his body line gets all wonky because his arms are so tired. But he touches his nose to the floor another 15 times nonetheless and gets up beaming with satisfaction, convinced of his strength.
The Baby wakes up, just as I'm about to brush my teeth. I'm reluctant to go in and lay down to settle her when I'll have to get back up again to brush and so I decide to just let her come and find me and we'll settle down together. I expect I'll have to brush with her laying on my shoulder and smearing teary snot into it as she tries to fall asleep again. She finds me, and I pick her up while continuing to brush. She stares at me grinning for a moment and then suddenly lunges for the counter top, so violently that I almost drop her. And then I understand. I put her next to me on the stool so she can see the mirror and I hand her her own toothbrush. The next five minutes I keep giggling as she pretends to brush her own teeth, crouching forward and looking up in that odd way she has of trying to make eye contact, and then smiling to show me that she too can brush her teeth. We both finish off and head to bed together, snuggling in among the blankets and letting sleep steal softly over us.