I’ve finally managed to wrangle Matthew sort-of into my lap on the sofa. It’s nearly impossible for him to sit still, but he likes reading enough to try, so he’s basically in fifteen places and 32 positions at one time. He’s plunked into the cushion next to me, constantly jabbing me with elbows and heads and knees, but also reading. Scarlett meanders over to our legs, finger in nose.
A golden stream of gleaming urine, making a rounded trajectory from between her fat legs onto the rug at our feet. Ending in a sloppy noise.
“Whoa! Potty! Potty!” I say, realizing I probably shouldn’t overreact a second after I’ve flipped Matthew off of me, thrown our book into the wall behind us, and am pounding down the hall in giant, leaping steps, holding her away from my body, squarely under the pits so her arms stick out to the side. I soften it up by elevating my voice to impossible heights, “Alri-ight!” as we round into the bathroom. “Yayy! Let’s go on the potty!”
It works. She’s thrilled! “Da-poddy!” she parrots, cheering. Though it’s barely audible over the rabid scavenging I’m doing, ass up, under the sink. There! The little cushy-seat-thing! She sits and nothing proceeds to happen. Nothing at all.
Scarlett is not potty trained. She actually doesn’t usually mind sitting on the toilet though. I consider that progress. Some kids hate the toilet altogether; at least she sits on it for long periods of time. I’ve never potty-trained a girl, and I wonder if that’s why this experience is so much different. Matthew didn’t like doing it but he learned fast. This is taking a long time so far with no real evidence of leaping forward soon, but it’s kind of fun. We read books and sing songs and she drives little toy pick-ups over the crinkles on my nose to pass the time.. we laugh, A LOT over positively nothing. Today she is unusually hyper-happy though. Every laugh comes from her gut, rumbles through her body, makes her pretty little head fall to the side in exhausted joy, boiling over like a pot left to bubble longer than it should. She breathes in dramatically, trying to regain herself and gives into laughing some more, sputtering this time but even deeper, letting her forehead fall onto mine.
I am into it so deep with this kid. How did she ever not exist?
That sonogram from so long ago, so this is what it meant. This is what it is to have a daughter.
Plenty of times in my life have been more exciting than this, more moving than this, more fun. I’m on my knees in front of a toilet, for crying out loud. There is still urine to scrub out of the rug a few rooms away. But very few have been so stingingly, absurdly happy. This is having a daughter.
She is not even my favorite child. I am not even her favorite parent. I feel like I love her more than any parent has ever loved a child, but I know it isn’t true. It feels that way to all of us because it’s supposed to. The love between a parent and child transcends favorites or labels or reasons. It just is, as much as it can be. And then a little bit more. And then even more than that.
Having a daughter is no better than having a son. Having a biological daughter is not in even the smallest way better than having one by any other means. But she is something unmistakably remarkable. Perfectly right. There is also nothing better than her. Nothing. Nothing.
A blue train with a tiny painted face is in her hand now. It’s small enough to fit in her grip, and she’s steering it from her bare legs to my arm, around the bend of my shoulder. “Brrrr…” she plays, suppressing a laugh that could be much louder if she wanted it to, behind cheeks that hide her eyes. She drives it over my head, laughing almost hysterically all of sudden, trying hard to maintain it’s path over my hair, which makes a cluster of dark strands web themselves over my face. She stops what she’s doing to fix it with the other hand, shifting her weight. She puts the train down on the edge of the tub real quick, and blows my face — the thing I do to keep little, growing bangs from falling over her eyes when she plays. It doesn’t work. My hair is too heavy, her breath is too small.
Her laughter is thin now, but it’s still there, lingering like bubbles that are late to burst. Earnestly, she works to set it all straight for me. She tries to tuck it behind my ear but it’s hard for her to reach. I sit, leaning into her, as still as I can, letting her take care of me, watching her learn how to do it. Finally, my hair is somewhere off to the side, not where it was before, collected in a strange and silly place at the top of my head. “Thank you, love.” I say.
A hand is on my face, a very small collection of fingers kissing my cheek.
“Ewe so booa-ful, mommy.”
It’s practically a whisper, the way serious messages sometimes are. It sits there hanging in the space between us, because I just want to admire it for a minute. I want her to see the way kind words spoken for the very first time make a person ignite with happiness. I want her to feel me smile. I’m sure she does. Her little eyes, syrupy sweet like big dollops of something very high in sugar, never move away from my face in all that time. Her hand still sits on my cheek.
“And you are so wonderful, baby.”
She did not pee. Well, not on anything but the carpet. All the same, important things are happening. My baby is becoming a girl.