I’m watching the five (almost six) year old daughter of my out-of-town guest while she visits some friends and enjoys some Latin dancing in Albany. Forgot what it is to have a younger child in my charge. More work in some ways, less in others. She is a girl, after all, and we all know girls just get things sooner than boys. Maybe I’m partly to blame – perhaps I’m too doting at times – but there’s no doubt that she’s naturally inspired to do some things for herself that wouldn’t occur to my son.
This girl, like Elihu, is bright and creative and a lot of fun to be with. There are also interesting differences, not limited to age or gender. First, I’m taken aback at how much she sees. My son’s world is much different, and being with a child of ‘normal’ vision brings up a couple things for me. First, I’m relieved. Relieved that I don’t feel the constant sense of loss, of maternal protection that I do with Elihu. While I’ve certainly gotten into a natural routine and groove with my near-sighted, colorblind child, and don’t really dwell on it, his limited sight is never out of my awareness. Yesterday, Lilas spotted a great blue heron flying overheard. Something my son would give anything to see for himself. He is hardly one for self pity, but if he’d been there in the car with us when she saw it, he might have even been disappointed to the point of tears. And the horses far, far off in a field. They hardly exist for me anymore – and I don’t point them out to Elihu; there’s no need to as it would only make him frustrated. She spotted them right away. My heart eases. It’s so nice to know she sees everything I do, it’s good to know it’s all there for her.
Her seeing color is interesting too, and again I feel a little relief. I can just tell her to look for something by its color alone – no longer do I need to do the mental reconnaissance and describe everything by its location, its shape, its shade… Not a big deal, but an interesting difference to me nonetheless. Aah, but vision issues aside, there is such a leap that is made between six and nine. Elihu has recently turned a corner of sorts, and has become a very capable young boy. That in of itself has provided me with some long-awaited freedoms. He does so much now that I have to constantly remind myself how little he needs me. It’s time now – it’s right and fitting – for him to be doing more. And yet, in spite of all he can do, Lilas has done some things on her own that he wouldn’t think of. Mostly in the grooming department. ! I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a girl, now I think I have a bit of an idea. And it’s ok that I don’t have a girl. I’m not a very pink sort of gal myself and might grow short of patience with all that Barbie kind of stuff. Having said that, I do enjoy giving her my ‘sparkly lipstick’ to put on before we leave the house. I haven’t forgotten entirely that sometimes it’s fun to be a girl.
We’re off to some errands. I’ll enjoy the ride as we see things far outside the window, I’ll have fun talking to her and having lunch and visiting places that look interesting to us. For now, I’ll just enjoy this step back in time to being mommy to a younger one. But I look forward with great anticipation to a little alone time after she and her mom depart. I’ve been a non-stop mom for a good long stretch. I can’t wait to be just me.