Monday, August 23, 2010

On the Cusp of Six

We spent the weekend tethered to our house because of a fun little stomach virus that's causing Jemma to need to be very near the toilet. And this was okay with us (the tethering, not the virus) because we didn't really have any plans this weekend, anyway. Oh, we filled the days up, alright, with working out and bike rides, baking cakes and grilling chicken, checking a few things off lists while the girls watched Toy Story 2. But mostly we floated happily from thing to thing in the kind of unstructured motion that's become our modus operandi this summer.

The girls stayed in their jammies until about 4:00 p.m. one of the days, hauling out every single toy in the playroom and constructing an elaborate Fairy House smack in the middle of the living room. Jemma sorted Polly Pockets outfits by color and fanciness while Annie built towers and closets and rooms out of blocks, paper, ribbons, and tape. She painstakingly set the table with tiny cups and tiny plates of pastries from her Strawberry Shortcake set. She created a bedroom and a dressing room and a pool for the fairies. She spent hours placing ribbons and decorations just so, lost in her architectural plans, humming It's a Small World to herself.

She asked to go running with me on Friday morning when I returned from my seven-miler, so in spite of my exhaustion, we ran to the coffee shop and back. One mile. She swings her arms and pumps her legs and runs the whole way without stopping. We talked about school supplies and birthday party ideas and what to make for lunch. She let out a big, dramatic sigh when we got back in the house.

The next day, she pestered Jason to take her running for two miles, and he did. She burst back in the front door, her face shiny and red. "I feel like I'm going to explode!" she said. "I feel 110% Sweating Hot!" She collapsed on the ground with a grin after giving me five. She ran two miles.

Yesterday, she got out the accessory bin and asked me to teach her to braid. I sat down with Annie and her Ariel head and showed her how to separate the fake red hair into three sections, how to trade the pieces back and forth, left, right, left, right, taking turns. She got frustrated and almost gave up two times. Then, suddenly, she was doing it, a huge smile creeping onto her face as I praised her persistence.

We made invitations for her birthday party together, armed with her recent obsession with Mo Willem's book The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog and our color scanner/copier. "Annie's Camping Hot Dog Birthday Party!" they say, in a five-year-old's colorful printing. There is a picture of the pigeon dancing around with his hot dog, squaking, "Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!" We stuffed the envelopes and rode our bikes around to deliver them to friends.

She cracked eggs into a bowl and flipped pancakes for breakfast. She worked on tying her new running shoes. She read her list of school supplies and made a new chart for her morning routine. She drew me a picture. She made place cards for our family meal with a special note inside Jemma's that read: "Dear Jemma, I am sorre you are sice. I hope you feel betr soon. Love, Annie." She called her grandpa to tell him she wants to go fishing next weekend. She shrieked and splashed and dove for my toes when I took her to the pool for an hour.

She is almost six. She is so big to me, so able. I watch her print her letters, run down the sidewalk, crack eggs into a bowl and I am caught between pride and wistfulness at how quickly time is passing. I know better than to try to stop time from marching on or my little girl from growing up. And instead of wishing for things to be any different than what they are right now, I console myself with the fact that Annie still, on the cusp of six, will spend a day wearing her princess nightgown and building a fairy house. She still rushes out of her room the next morning, searching for the glitter that proves the fairies have been in her house. For now, at least, there is still magic.

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