august 11: Beatrice

Today Beatrice and I watched the sun rise, the air already heavy with the sticky humidity of the day. She brought books outside and read almost quietly while I spent a few minutes with my Bible.

She wants to help me cook all the time. Even when I’m trying so hard to just bang something out, she’s there, asking. Yesterday morning I wrote in my journal, “Help me to draw [the children] close,” and then had to laugh when the opportunity presented itself at the wrong moment. You know, the way God seems to do. I thought you wanted to be stretched, to embrace them more in each moment? Is this not a good one? No, God, it’s not quite what I was thinking, but the joke’s on me. I get it.

And I pull up a chair for the eager little girl next to me. She painstakingly puts each cucumber slice into the bowl, and I do my best to resist the urge to hurry her along. Her eyes sparkle and her dimples appear when she pops a slice into her mouth. I shake my head and laugh.

She has a birthday in six days. She’s been on cloud nine ever since the calendar page flipped to her month, and she is just bursting with anticipation. On August 2nd, I brought her on an errand and she very confidently walked next to me in the parking lot without holding my hand because, she asserted, she was nearly five, you know.

School books just for her are collecting, along with the boys’, in the corner of my room. I can’t imagine how excited she will be when she sees them all, just for her. Her very first CFA uniform came in the mail (had to grab that sale price in July!), and it’s been tried on and carefully hung. Each sock is rolled and tucked into a little navy blue shoe.

And tonight, she told me her tooth hurt, and when I touched it, it wiggled. “Oh my! You have a loose tooth!” Her eyes turned round as saucers, and then the biggest smile. “I have a loose tooth?! I’m getting to be such a big girl!”

These little people. They grow so fast. The circumference in which they travel around me grows wider and wider each year, and Beatrice is slipping into an orbit that is just beyond my perpetual reach. A little bit independent. Thinking about life a little bit more on her own. Laughing and singing and playing and doing it all without me much of the time.

So when she fingers that loose tooth, I grab her into my arms and give her a long squeeze. She’s growing, but she’s not grown quite yet. Still my little girl, still just right for a story on my lap.

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