Whenever Scarlett’s happy, she jumps. She stops what she’s doing and she looks at the ground to steady herself for a second, and then she hop, hop, hops, usually setting a pair of light-up sneakers feverishly ablink.
They are just a small thing, her little jumps, but they’re delighted in around here like a gifted ability. What a stroke of luck, I always think when we’re laughing over her collectively as she hops (because Mommy found the glue, because this water is for her, because cousin Angelina outgrew another pair of boots). What a very lucky thing that one of the most distinguishing pieces of her childhood for us to to look back on someday, would be a thing so infectiously lovable.
I will remember this forever, I think. “I hope she never stops” her dad coos, his eyes doing that twinkly thing they do for her and only her. “I hope that when she’s seventeen and a boy asks her on a date, she goes: (hop, hop) ‘YES!'”
But we will forget. And she will stop.
It’s just like the way she used to flap the palms of her hands open and closed, arms stretched toward us as far as she could reach, beckoning for someone to hold her. Or the way Mary loved writing hilarious personifications in second grade, stapling together illustrated sheets of copy paper to make “real, live” books. Or the way Matthew outgrew being afraid of cracks in the sidewalk, like stepping on a little broken gravel might split the whole world in two and send us all plummeting to the Land of the Lost. There are a hundred and two examples that, had I remembered to scribble them down while they were fresh with existence, I could pick from for this paragraph. But just about all of them are lost to a busted, overworked memory.
Over the weekend, we were hit with a forgivably warm Saturday for the middle of January.
Knowing the answer perfectly well, I asked Scarlett if she wanted to go outside, and in response, she did what she always does when she catches wind of news that is, in any way, not terrible. Both bubbly-toed, stocking-clad feet caught a little air over the kitchen tile. And when she landed two clutzy landings in a row, she flashed me a grin so gaping I could probably have counted every tooth inside. “I wan go OUT-SIDE!” she assured me, leaving no room for question when both hands met for a belly-flashing clap above her head. I scooped her up for a kiss I just couldn’t resist. Then, laughing, I set her down from my hip and watched her hop away, galloping in a happy little side-step all the way up the hall for her boots.
She will grow and I will probably forget. Just not today.