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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Golden Child

She's four, and the thin autumn sun illuminates her blonde hair so that it looks like a golden halo. She holds my hand as she walks next to me, skipping now and then, singing to herself, swinging her free arm. We walk under a hickory tree and she makes a point to stomp on every fallen nut. "I stomped 'em," she tells me brightly. "And know what Mom? If we turn around, and I come by here again, I'm gonna stomp 'em again." Everything she tells me is direct and matter of fact, and her mind works constantly. Most of the time I can almost see the activity buzzing around in there, just by looking into her navy blue eyes.

We spy a puddle on this walk. We're walking up our long gravel driveway, but to her we're climbing Mount Everest. The puddle is a few days old and no more than a barely damp spot in the dirt, not even muddy really. Its a blah sort of puddle, except something amazing is happening in it. Hundreds of tiny yellow butterflies are camped out here, resting. They can't be drinking, because there's no water. They just rest, and every now and then their fragile wings open, then close again. There isn't much breeze, but they're so small that the tiniest rush of air leaves them clinging to the earth for dear life.

And now my Four has spotted them too, and she squeals in delight. "Mom! Butterflies!" She runs toward them, and grants me the most amazing thing I've seen in a very long time. The butterflies startle, and take flight, swirling around her in a yellow storm. She screams with laughter, hands in the air, mouth open, living. The butterflies are the same color as her golden hair, and I think if she willed it, she could fly with them. And the thought crosses my mind, as it has a thousand times before - please don't ever grow up. Be my golden child forever.

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