It is October. A cool morning that settled into a pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon, the way an October Saturday does in San Diego. Around the house, the Halloween decorations have begun going up, and the kids are excited. They have only recently finished being excited about a birthday, and soon they will be excited about Christmas. Every season has its presents or candies to look forward to. Sometimes both.
By this time she is three, but on the wall she is still a baby, and her brother is barely done being a toddler.
There above the dining table she is still a baby today, younger than her baby sister. And—for now—she is the same age as the brother that smiles above the spot where she used to eat her cereal. The brother that eats his cereal in the living room these days is, of course, still her senior.
If the shift in tense is confusing, just stop and consider the layers of "now" that are in that kitchen. An October afternoon. A morning in May. An April weekday as I write this. Whenever it is that you read it. Photography is weird.
The boy took one look at the new floors and started to cry. "I think I'm going to throw up!" he said. I always thought that my sentimentality and resistance to change had to do with the fact that we moved so many times when I was a child, but he's the same way—perhaps even more so.
The girl took a few steps in, turned her head to take it all in, and with a sunny smile declared, "I like them!" Though, it was not immediately obvious whether she actually liked them or was just saying the opposite of what her brother said.
The baby hasn't given an opinion yet, nor do I expect her to. By the time she's able to say anything, she will have long since forgotten that there was ever carpet in the living room—if, indeed, she hasn't already. Her knees slip a bit more when she tries to crawl in her pajamas, but she takes it all in stride, like everything. Onward and upward, that's her motto.
A year ago, when this photo was taken, her hair was longer and they were both smaller. But already they barely fit into the bath tub together. How is it that they still manage to squeeze in there, side by side, today? Somehow, they do. Not for too much longer, I think. But perhaps by the time he's finally outgrown bathtime with his sister, the baby will be ready to take his place.
She had spent the whole afternoon playing outside. "They're presents!" she said.
A few days later it rained unexpectedly. (Here, rain is never expected.) She cried to see her presents erased.
"Honey, chalk is not forever," I said. "You can draw new presents tomorrow. That's what makes chalk fun"
She didn't understand, and just kept crying, broken-hearted that the work of an afternoon was destroyed.
(Because, to a three-year-old, an afternoon is a lifetime.)
But, by the time the pavement had dried, so had her tears. She was on to other things.
Growing up in a city of over a million people, they do not see much of wildness. They see it here and there, of course, but they don't live with it, the way we did when we were young.
They came upon this little thing, tiny and cute but wild nonetheless. I watched while they built a corral of sticks and fashioned a little trough from a bottlecap, picking clover so it could eat. They were disappointed that it scurried away so quickly, unhindered by their fences. Why wouldn't it stay, so that they could love it and protect it, so that they could look at its adorableness and smile? But, whatever their will, it had its own drives and soon went on its way.