I could hear Maya in the playroom this afternoon, jabbering away to a doll while Elliot slept. Now that the big Golden Birthday Pony Party is behind us, I am unengaged. Nothing to clean. No food to prepare. At least, not urgently.
"I can play with you, sweetie." I said proudly, after having to deny too many requests last week.
"No thanks, Mom (not Mama anymore). You can go." She smiled broadly at me, then turned back to stuff her baby doll into a pink dog carrier.
I turned to go, wondering simultaneously what to do if not play with her in my spare time and whether it was reasonable for a grown woman to cry over a denied offer to play dolls.
I have friends who never play imaginary games with their kids. Good parents, loving and creative parents who leave the play to the kids while they get better things accomplished. But play is part of the reason I had these girls. Especially this girl. My first. The one who had to begin as just a dream based on no real information. For me, the dream included an occasional dip back into my own childhood, when playing with my little brother meant worlds of creative adventure just outside my door. Laundry & Co. have always taken a back seat to play.
Before I slumped too far away, Maya called out, "Wait, Mom! Will you be the doctor, my baby has an owie."
For the next twenty minutes I happily performed surgery on the playroom population, where many of the animals have a knack for swallowing sharks. My own performance, prying the sharks out, dodging bites, and repairing the wounded aardvark, was met with many giggles from a delighted five-year-old. Now, unlike even a year ago, she adds her own twists to our stories and sorts out new turns for our plot.
But my time as playmate with this clever, silly girl, is short. She has a fleet of neighborhood friends now, as she should. Kindergarten awaits at the end of summer.
This fifth birthday, celebrated with a wild day of multiple parties and admirable pomp, was not overdone. She has reached a major milestone. Crossing the last boundary from baby to child. She is tender and kind, goofy and easily entertained by toilet humor, and she is curious and so eager to know more.
We took a walk, just the two of us, the day after her birthday. I kept quiet, mostly, letting her lead the way. She didn't want to ride her newly tricked out bike, just to walk. She found birds and worms and holes in trees where something surely lives. She asked millions of questions. She smiled and listened to the sounds of our park.
And she said over and over again, "Mom, it's so nice to be just you and me."
Play or no play, she is my girl. And she is five. And she amazes me as much as she did in that very first moment.
Gems worth Re-Reading
About Growing Baby Doing Good Together Elliot Rose Family Rituals Fie Flora and Fauna For the Love of Learning Greenish In My Opinion Just for Laughs Just for Me Making Tinkles Maya Mindfulness Mmm... So Tastey NaNoWriMo News of the Day Noveling Photo Friday Sewing Sisterly Love Sweet Dreams The Chicken Ladies the end Tonsils We like to Move It Move It Wonderment