“I can’t wait to go to sleep!” the little girl said. She wiggled in my lap and coiled her arms together into impossible shapes. “I can’t believe that when I wake up tomorrow I’m going to be five!” she held up her fingers in her practiced way. She had been preparing for this day since before Christmas.
We were alone in her room. Her sister and brother were taking turns knocking on the locked door, begging to be let back in. They had been forced into the hallway so Lydia and I could read one last book together while she was still four. She ignored them as I finished the story and put the book away. She smiled up at me, still impatiently coiling and uncoiling her arms.
“You are a special little girl,” I told her. “And do you know what?”
“You put you pajamas on inside out.”
“Oh,” she giggled shyly.
“And do you know what?”
“You also put them on backwards.”
She lifted her shirt and saw the tag sticking out on the front of her pants. She laughed, “I guess I’ll have to walk like this then.” She hopped down and moonwalked backwards across the room to the door. She reached for the door knob. “I think I’ll leave my pajamas like this for tonight though. I’ll put them on the right way when I’m five.”
We smiled at each other for a few more seconds. A little girl with golden curls slowly baking to brown, two bright eyes confidently unraveling the mysteries of life, a heart bursting with color and passion. She was a vibrant explosion that went off in our home five years ago and has never stopped burning. A delicate flickering flame lighting up the corners of our world.
She quietly motioned as if to ask permission to open the door. I nodded. The bedroom door instantly flew wide. She held her eyes closed tight and spread her arms to receive the tiny flood of siblings that came tumbling in on top of her. She embraced the flood, the way she embraces everything, and together they fell to the ground in an explosion of laughter.