I wrote this when my daughter was three and a half and thought I would share with a community that would likely understand…
She is my beautiful staring princess, lashes that lilt upwards gracefully at 30 degrees, glisten with a hint of gloss. She looks out of a window peacefully chewing her pizza and when I look at her she returns my gaze without pause or inhibition, reflecting the knowledge of the millennia that blazes past us, stuck like a picture fading in time, father and daughter in two thin iron chairs, now looking aslant, out the window and in to the varnish of the wooden table, out into the distance and six inches away. It feels like it should be raining.
Then she sees a little picnic table across from us, some little benches against a wall with little cubbies, how she loves everything small. They are colored magenta and call to her. She talks me into sitting there, meeting her there in that little place, to talk of her little things, and eat her little French fries and a hardboiled egg. I sit and can be there but must press on.
“We have to go shopping,” I say, getting up and taking a few steps away.
“No, no, no,” she says shifting from the table to the benches, “I have to sit on the little benches.”
I know how to ‘solve’ her simple complexities and can’t resist the temptation:
“I hope they still have some special carts left there. I hope the other little kids haven’t taken them by now.” Her eyes stare off behind me emptily, the tiny parts of her elaborate little mind clenching and unclenching almost tangibly. She bites off the head of a last Yucca fry, which she strangely likes, and grabs the lunch container and goes for the trash, her little ambition now in motion. She runs, I walk, and we both keep pace. It feels like we’re holding hands but she’s a few steps behind, and galloping.
When we get there she is silently thrilled while I make a show of artificial celebration when we see the special cart available (of course, it was always available). But my neck seizes and my shoulders clench as she gets in very quietly, her thoughts an enigma trapped somewhere inside a little purple hat with owl eyes and two tails, and just enough hair of blond flax to not be mistaken for a boy anymore.