I stand at the counter making lunch. She's right here by my side. Every time I move to get something out of cupboard or fridge I practically stumble over her. Eyes wide, she watches my every move. Every twist on a lid. Every stroke of the spreading knife. Then the question comes. "Mom, can you teach me how to spread the jelly with the butter knife?"
These days it's pretty much a guarantee. If I'm working in the kitchen she's there at my elbow. Watching closely. Asking questions. Requesting a taste of every ingredient. Eager to help. Hungry to learn.
It's not just in the kitchen either. Folding laundry. Changing diapers. Doing my make-up. Writing grocery lists. Whatever I'm doing she's close behind watching and learning.
But I'm not the only one she follows around. There's this boy who wears a purple shirt. He's a relative. That means nothing to her almost-four-year-old self. What she knows is that she likes him. I don't know if she has a real reason for her little girl crush. When I ask she says,'He's a boy!" But there are many other boys that she doesn't give two seconds of attention to.
Purple Shirt Boy gets a lot of her attention. When he's around she follows him quietly playing in his shadow. Trying to be a apart of whatever he may be doing at the time. When he's not around she talks about him. Dreams about him. Plans her wardrobe around him.
"Mom, he and I have purple shirts. I have a purple shirt and he has a purple shirt. We both have purple shirts, Mom. We match."
"Mom, he and I both pick our boogers. I pick my boogers and he picks his boogers. We both do, Mom."
"Mom, I got stung by a bee and he got stung by a bee. He did and I did, Mom. We're the same."
"Mom, when I see him I'm going to wear my purple shirt so that we can match."
"Mom, I want to wear a dress. He likes it when I wear a dress so I want to wear a dress because I look pretty when I wear a dress."
She's four. I know it's an innocent little crush. But it still scares me. Because the apple?... And the tree?... and the falling?...I remember when my cousin came to live with us. We were both five. And he was CUTE! I chased him around the yard and tried to kiss him. I know that particular crush didn't last long. But there were others. Many others.
And the things she says at almost four, I was still saying in my twenties.
"If I do my hair this way..."
"If I wear these clothes..."
And with Hot Hubby all of that was blown out of the water. I didn't need to be anything other than me. That's how I knew he was the one.
But how do I teach her that now? At four? That she doesn't need to be whatever-she-thinks whoever-he-is would like her to be? All she has to be is her amazing little self.
I worry I don't have the words. I think long. Pray hard. And then I remember.
"Mom, will you teach me how to spread the jelly with the butter knife?"
My job? It's to show her.