We sat on the wooden bridge for awhile with a bag of fish food. The water was pretty murky and the fish were hard to spot and slow to come. Some days you can see several feet into the depths and watch the giant koi stacked on top of one another like a Jenga set, their mouths breaking the surface, going after each morsel, but not today. Today the fish were sluggish and mostly stayed below the limited area that we could see from above. We tossed the food slowly, trying to interest them back to the surface, but mostly we just enjoyed the sun, and the quiet of this area off the beaten path. It was hard to find a position at the edge of this bridge that was very comfortable to me, and I thought about how I was going to get back up without pitching into that water. We watched the surface of my belly for awhile which was more active than the water we were perched above. She watched across the pond for awhile, back towards the crowds of people at the bridge and wondered if the fish were all over there. She didn’t say much, just watched, and I could tell at one point she was counting the number of white chairs across the way set up for an afternoon wedding. Without saying much at all, I could see that she was trying to take the number of chairs in a row and the number of rows on that hill and find the number she was looking for. I offered to help, but she declined the offer and continued whispering for awhile before she made an educated guess which happened to be a fairly accurate estimate. I wondered how quickly time would speed on from this point – how did we get to this day where I was sitting with my almost first grader as she attempted multiplication in her head and threw fish pellets at a slow and rhythmic pace. I opened up my camera and set it on the bridge post next to me – not aiming, just shooting as she worked through her thoughts and threw the food. When the sun got too warm on the belly of my black shirt I told her I’d need a bit of help getting up.
“How do pregnant ladies get to a point where they have trouble getting up by themselves?” she asked, laughing a bit at my predicament.
“How do babies get to be first graders before their parents can even blink twice?” I asked right back. “When did you decide to grow so quickly? How come your legs stretched longer just last night? Why do you look like such a big kid? Why do you look older this afternoon then you even did this morning?”
She seemed a bit taken aback that I challenged her question with so many to her, and paused for a moment to think through her answer. She finally replied as she offered me a hand to get up, the other hand bracing herself against the bridge pier.
“I’m always older in the afternoon than I am in the morning. But I don’t think I look like a big kid yet. I just think I’m starting to look like a big sister, that’s all.”