A bag of new clothes sits on my bed. Well, not really new, they are cast offs, hand me downs, gifts. We are very excited. But there will be no looking at this bag of clothes right now. The Girl already has far more clothes than she needs stuffed into every available space. All of it free, all of it thanks to the generosity of other little girls who got taller before they wore them out. WE need to once again sort through what she has, discard what is too stained or torn to keep, store what is too small for the Baby someday, and start to put away some of the winter things now that we are swimming already in the afternoons again. She runs to find bags, but she wants to keep everything.
As I put clothes on hangers, once again wondering if there is some way I can lower the rod so she can reach it, I get lost in the rhythmic task and the sounds around me start to blend together. And then I realize that she is telling stories. She is sitting curled up in the basket that holds the Baby's clothes, inside the closet, and she is holding in one hand a grocery receipt while the other traces the lines, pointing to imaginary words, as my hand points to real words as I read. Every line is a different story, like changing the dial on the radio she utters snippets and detached sentence fragments, as I continue to hang jackets and dresses.
When the closet purge is complete she tries on the new clothes. Her hair is loose and snarled and flies every where in all it's tousled blond glory as she changes shirts. She starts to hide and insist that I not look until she has the pants on all the way and does up the buttons herself. I wonder how she's managed to grow up so much, how she got this beautiful. I suddenly realize this is the first of many such moments, the first time I've ever really watched my daughter try on clothes, and my brain leaps forward to all of those moments that wait down the road, where pivotal events will begin with the trying on of outfits. Firsts all of them. She is so little, but the shades of her older self's possibilities are peeking through.
They are playing a game. Their games are elaborate scenarios, acted with gusto by a cast of stuffed animals and plastic horses. Today he is a King, and she is a princess, and capes are donned and crowns must be fashioned. The Boy gets to work cutting paper and drawing jewelry, "Because a princess's crown is upposed to have jewelry Mom."
I am busy. I am distractedly saying "Uh huh" as I do something else. He continues to tell me all about the process by which proper crowns are made and finally I turn and look at him as he recounts how he got out the scissors himself, and cut it himself, and taped them together himself, and colored them himself. He is proud of his independence, and suddenly, looking at him, my heart swells with pride as well, and deep, deep affection for this man child, this Boy who this morning got the broom and swept up the shattered glass from a jar he broke without needing to be told, who reads BOB books to his little sister aloud, and makes her princess crowns out of paper, and gives me an unsolicited hug at least once a day and tells me he loves me. It wells up within me and I have no desire to do anything but listen to him talk, and memorize exactly how he looks right now as the late afternoon sun casts a glow on the glass behind his head and happy contentment plays across his face.