Minimal

black-dot

 

“What is that?” I asked about the dot the four-year-old had just purposed onto the page.

We’d been talking about living and non-living things, sorting pictures and ideas.

He looked up at me. “It a minimal.” His tone stated this was obvious.

“A what?”

He raised a small eyebrow, slowed his speech to meet my apparently plummeting intellect. “A Mini-Mal. A very teeny teeny animal.”

 

 

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Biggest in his eyes!

Giraffe

“My daddy is more bigger,” he announced after examining a photo on my wall of my niece and her (rather tall) husband. His curls bounced in certitude and his tone spanned the space from pity to challenge.

“Is he?” I noted, winking at the boy’s mom.

I know the father. Objectively this little guy’s dad isn’t particularly tall, but this wasn’t about being objective … To his son, the father may as well be the giant of all giants.

“Yea,” the preschooler nodded emphatically. “My daddy is even more bigger than …” he scanned the room for inspiration, “… a whole Empire State Building house or even more bigger than …” he narrowed his eyes in concentration, opened them wide, “a giraffe!”

 

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Mini Picasso

 

“This is a big big big mountain and it have a train and it go ‘choo-CHOOOO!’ round and round and also flowers but you see them fast because it a train and rainbow and my name.” (J.N, age 3:4)

 

mini picasso

 

 

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Butterflies

butterflies-photographer unknown

 

She had butterflies in her tummy. Her heart was in her throat. Jitters like little worry critters jumbled through her thoughts. She felt apprehensive, anxious, wary, shaky. Her feet felt twitchy, her hands clammy. She was timorous and nervy.

Not quite frightened. Not quite sorry. Hyper with a smidge of happy and a sprinkling of uneasy.

She was both hungry and queasy. She kept fretting. She felt trembly.

Recital day in all its glory.

 

 

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How Will I Know?

girlchem

“How will I know?” the girl hung spectacled green eyes on me. Teeth aglitter with pastel-colored braces bit her lower lip. “What if I wait till it’s too late?”

It was decision time for Summer Camp and she was fretting.

Should she go to the same camp she’d gone to twice already, the camp her cousin goes to, and where several of her classmates will be? She loved it there. It was familiar. It was only three hours away from home. There was a lake and zip-lines and horseback riding. She was going to choose her best friend from last summer as a bunk-mate. It felt like another home.

Or … should she go to the other camp … the one she’d heard of last year but by then already had no openings? The science camp sounded like everything she’d ever want … but now the choice – and possible consequences – became real. That camp was half-way across the continent. It was on a campus, not in a forest. There’d be no one there she knows.

“My friends say I’m crazy because who wants school when there’s finally no school,” she sighed. Her finger twirled the edge of an auburn lock. Twist, hold, release; twist, hold, release. I thought of how the movement mirrored her dilemma … To hold on or to let go, to keep close or to let loose.

A difficult concept at any age, let alone at eleven.

“Hmm …” I noted. It wasn’t my input this child needed, just my ear.

“It’s not like school!” she stressed, a bit defensively. “It’s interesting! Also, they have summer camp activities. A pool, and trips, even arts and crafts. … Well, the crafts are more like, robotics and such, but that’s still crafting stuff, isn’t it?”

I nodded.

She took a deeper breath. “And I like science … They have a whole week about space. We’ll even get to visit a real observatory!” Her eyes shone as if they were already reflecting several constellations, and she sat straighter. Then she sagged. “But I don’t know anyone.”

“Not yet,” I noted. “I gather this won’t last.”

The auburn curl twirled, corked, released. “Yeah … There were a lot of kids I didn’t know in the other camp, especially the first time. But …” the big green eyes widened as the core of doubt unmasked. “What if everyone there is, you know, dorks and nerds and such?”

My eyebrows rose, amused. “And if they are? …”

She frowned but then a pastel-braces grin appeared. “Well … then I’ll fit right in…”

womenscientist1

 

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Jiggly Biggly Boo

There’s a special place in heaven for well-loved toys. Missing ears, tatty limbs, dangly eyes, bald patches, poke-out stuffing, stained coats. Wet tummies with mold, too.

A little one described it to me, his gray-blue eyes bright with loss.

Their house had gotten damaged in a flood. Along with wet carpets and soggy couch pillows, a few unredeemable yet oh-so-precious loveables also had to be tossed out: a bunny, a teddy, and a well-hugged-sloth named Jiggly Biggly Boo.

“He got wet all the way inside him tummy,” the boy shook his curly head. “Maybe we don’t have no more towels … ” he paused, confused, then sighed. “Jiggly Biggly Boo had to go to toys heaven.”

He raised large sad eyes at me. “They have tummy towels? Him tummy got wet. He got mowed.”

 

stuffed-animal-sloth

Stuffed Sloth: The Discovery Channel Store

 

 

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In Plain Sight

 

His face gave him away.

Guilt wrote itself into every centimeter of his little visage. It colored his cheeks cherry and turned his lips downwards and his eyes up and away. He pressed his lips together to prevent admission. Tucked his hands deep into his pockets, one fist bulging in a telltale sign of something hidden.

Or not so well hidden.

I raised an eyebrow, more amusement than ire.

“I didn’t take anything,” he blurted.

My eyebrow climbed along with a corner of my mouth.

The four-year-old’s eyes darted down his arm, eyes magnetized by a conflicted conscience. “I don’t have anything in my hand …”

“I see …” I noted.

His looked up at me in alarm and the cherries on his cheeks bloomed beet.

“But …?” he examined the opaque fabric of his pants before exclaiming in half-question, half-fact: “Oh, you have magic eyes!?”

His little chest sighed and he pulled his hand out, candy clutched in guilty fingers. “I … I didn’t take it. … Uh … I only did … um … can I have one?”

 

dish-of-candy

 

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The Sounds In The Silence …

 

“Hello darkness,

My old friend,

I’ve come to talk to you again …”

The song plays incessantly in my head, sparked awake by the words of a pre-teen who shared her nighttime worries with me.

She finds it difficult to sleep. Her ears strain to pick up any errant sound: A car’s brakes, a slammed door, people’s voices, steps, a distant bark. She’s afraid they’ve come.

She’s been told she shouldn’t worry. She’s done nothing wrong. Yet there are those who hadn’t, and still had loved ones taken. And she’s not from here. Not really. Not from birth, anyway.

What if the rules change and she’s deemed “returnable”?

What if they keep her away from her parents, send her back to where she’d come from? What if she cannot find the words, if they not let her explain that she is finally, finally, home?

She lies in bed at night. Listening. Making and discarding plans. Fretting in the dark.

Maybe she’ll hide. But where? Someone at school said they sometimes have dogs. She loves dogs. Police dogs — beautiful and focused and proud — never used to scare her. They do now. At their handlers’ command, they can hunt her down. She’s seen it. On TV. In her mind. Now her dreams.

“I listen to the sounds in the silence,” she whispered, eyes bright. “And I wait. Even in my dreams, I listen … and I cry when they come.”

 

 

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Expectant

 

“My mommy have a baby in her tummy!” she announces even before her little feet clear the steps.

“How lovely!” I’ve known for a while, but delight never gets old.

“But the baby not coming out yet,” she clarifies soberly.

“Oh,” I match my tone to hers.

The girl nods sagely. “It not ready yet.”

“I see.”

She shrugs out of her coat and wriggles a bit as she lets me help her remove her snow boots. She pauses mid-wriggle. One socked foot liberated.

“Will mommy have to blow?”

“Blow?”

“Yeah,” the almost-four-year-old cocks her head with bewilderment at my lack of immediate understanding. “When the baby come out.”

I look up, slightly flustered. Someone did a tripe-knot on that other boot. Fort Knox.

She stares at me.

It is one of those times when I have a feeling that my hypothesis about her question is quite different than what she is actually asking about.

“What do you think?” I default to my when-in-doubt-return-the-question-to-the-kid.

She nods vigorously. “Yeah. Because when the baby finish cooking it going to be too hot.”

 

hot-food

 

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I Mean It!

 

He plopped himself on the rug and pulled his sock on, tugging on the elastic till the fabric stretched to his knees. He gazed down at a bump. Scrunched his forehead, patted the bump down. It flattened but not all the way.

The furrows in his forehead grew. The bumpy bit was connected to the sock … like always … but something still seemed wrong.

He twisted his foot. Examined the sole. No bump there.

He pulled harder on the elastic. Re-examined. No change.

He shrugged.

Somehow when mommy or daddy did this, the sock looked different. No bump on the bottom. No bump on top.

He stood, took a step and stopped. Another step. Stopped.

The bump bunched. It felt funny when he walked.

He sat back down. Stared at his feet. Wiggled his toes.

It felt funny again. He bent his foot. No good.

Maybe the sock was broken.

He pulled it off.

Took a look.

The sock appeared completely normal now. Just like always.

He pursed his lips, pointed his toes into the sock and tried again.

The fabric bunched. A bump.

He moved his foot, paused, narrowed his eyes, and sighed. Tugged the sock off and held it between thumb and finger.

“Be good boy, Sock,” he admonished. “No more no-sense. I mean it!”

 

toddler-putting-on-socks-wearing-winter-water-factory

Photo by: agirlnamedpj.com

 

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