I read the poem again this weekend that makes me think of F, A Circle of Sun, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich – so much so that we based her whole third birthday party around it and I embroidered it on her birthday dress. There were several reasons I pulled out that particular anthology and read the poem again.
I’m honey on toast.
I was thinking of this other poem again, and the idea of honey, and I remembered the reference to honey in this poem. I watched her Saturday eating dessert that was too sweet for me, watching her mouth ringed with marshmallow and chocolate, smiling her dimples into view.
I’m morning and night.
I was alone with the girls this weekend while M was out of town, and I let them climb into bed with me and sleep. I’ve been having a hard time lately in the evenings and at night – I worry about them, I check on them again and again, I fight back fears that I have no control over. Aside from the extra elbows and bony knees, I loved having them close. I watched the little one as she slept, curled into the crook of my arm.
I’m a piece of the sky in a circle of sun.
She has brought some of that warmth (and that laughter) back into this house. She is little, and she doesn’t understand it, but I’m grateful for this gift. Here are a few of those things from the past few weeks.
She is old enough now to engage in longer books, read in small pieces. We are rereading Thrump-o-moto, a book that has already proven to be a page turner. It’s long enough to have chapters, but it doesn’t – the story runs on from one page to the next – sometimes mid-sentence. I have to set an early page limit – four pages tonight – or we’ll be reading for hours. I usually hold our place with the book’s outer flap, but she’s been watching her sister fly though seven hundred page novels, one right after another, and she’s noticed the collection of bookmarks scattered around half a dozen of her books. We finish page four of Thrump-o-moto and she looks left and right. “Where’s my book-pauser?” she asks. I will never call them bookmarks again.
A couple of months ago she was describing the difference between various superheros, as breathlessly relayed to her by her hero loving friends. She was trying to describe just how large one of them is compared to the other. He’s bigger than the symphony of outer space. She still uses this phrase occasionally. I’m hungrier than the whole symphony of stars.
Her school is adjacent to the Italian-American neighborhood here known as The Hill. Her class takes frequent walking trips around the neighborhood, visiting local shopkeepers and sampling breads and chocolates and meats. My parents went to Italy back in September, and shortly after that trip F started to play this game from the car – announcing flags that she saw as we drove buy. American Flag! she yells out, American Flag! Italian Flag! For a few days I thought she had picked up her Italian flag knowledge from her grandparents’ trip, but then M reminded me that she probably points out Italian flags with her classmates during their wanderings. She actually calls any secondary flag below the stars and stripes an Italian flag, even if it’s the state flag or the city flag or the Hardees flag.
We will think she’s fast asleep in her car seat, thumb planted firmly in her mouth, when we hear her call out into the silence in a sleepy voice American Flag, Italian Flag.
Her father heads out of town and she asks him to bring her back a princess. He’s going nowhere near any sort of princess outlet, but he promises her he’ll keep an eye out for one. A few days later we make a quick trip to the mall and, in a moment of supreme weakness, I let her choose a small toy at the Disney store. She sort of makes a circle around the front portion of the store and she can’t seem to focus or even slow down. It takes several tries to get her to even stop and consider a purchase, even as I’m trying to help her make one by virtually eliminating all the field and offering up only two options. She finally stops and looks at me and says “There are so many choices I can never possibly make up my mind.”
I can appreciate this, and I select a small dress up accessory set and wait in line for someone to tell me to have a magical day. She’s retreated to the table with the coloring book, away from the towering shelves of indecision.
We’re at the art museum with her class, the only field trip I’ve accompanied her on this year. It occurs just a few days after we were there with family on a Sunday, making art in one of the galleries and walking around the new addition. The children move from gallery to gallery with a docent perfectly matched to a group of four year olds. They find colors, and moons and train smoke and round, ripe fruit in bowls, that last one is a Cezanne. They talk about yellow apples and the ones they’ve picked on a recent trip to the apple orchard. They talk about lily pads like the ones they see at the Garden. The docent takes them into the next gallery and they sit down in front of a large piece full of bright circles and heavy black lines and swirls. What do you see here children, when you look at this painting?
I see a Picasso, she says, and I laugh and then smile.
(We have a Picasso board book, that apparently has worked.)
She’s writing letters now, and a few words, but mostly just letters that she strings together into nonsensical words and patterns. She writes for awhile and then asks for a translation. The other night she showed me this paper, and asked me what it spelled.
It felt good to laugh, and she’s happy to have a new word to employ when we tell her to knock it off with the poop talk.
She is working at her desk, deeply engrossed in the task at hand. She ignores me as I walk in and out of the room, delivering folded laundry or straightening up or checking in. I don’t disturb her, because an engaging all-consuming task is a double bonus for everyone. The fourth or fifth time I walk in, I stand in the middle of the room, trying to remember what I’ve come for. Her back is to me, and she’s humming a tune under her breath. I smile while I watch her work until she eventually stops singing and looks up from her desk. Without turning around to face me, she simply declares “I might just be the one you’ve been looking for,” before returning to her paper and her song.