My dearest Leah,
You never cease to amaze me by your innate knack for stirring deep emotions, but today you outdid yourself. It started this morning when you woke up with bed head, and I realized with an acute twinge of motherly fondness that the bangs that you cut for yourself last night really are charming. As I braided your older sister's long hair, the falling clumps that you snipped from her pony tail yesterday were a fresh reminder of the dread I felt when daddy told me you'd found scissors.
Later, as I made a pie in the kitchen, I looked over my shoulder to see you quietly washing the dining room wall with a dirty rag from the laundry basket. I smiled to myself, remembering how industrious you are and delighted that it was momentarily bent in a constructive direction. Three minutes later, the purple crayon in your hand circling the freshly painted front door made me gasp with dismay. My horrified choke served to warn you to cover your eyes with your chubby little hands as I found the full extent of your handiwork, that I now realize you were trying to clean off with that rag. The giant purple scribbles on the walls, tile and grout provided more emotional trauma, only slightly offset by your guilty reaction. An hour later, you stir me again by climbing all by yourself into your sister's bed, the top bunk, using the play kitchenette as a stepping stool to the grand height. I shudder, considering how that kitchen must have wobbled under your weight. You beam at me from up there, quite pleased with your latest conquest. You clinch the afternoon by running out of your room in a panic, adamant that you had stuffed a Pez candy up your nose. I couldn't see or feel anything, so for now, we are waiting to see the doctor tomorrow to see the collateral damage from that experiment.
But you were merely warming up, and you saved your crowning moment for an audience. This evening we invited daddy's mom (whom you call Baba), dad and grandma over to our house for dessert. Momma wanted to make it an extra special evening, so I made strawberry rhubarb pie and homemade vanilla ice cream. Great-grandma Newman, at the venerable age of 90, has traveled from Arkansas for a two-week visit, and we wanted to make this a memorable time. Thanks to you, it surely will be.
As we finished up dessert, you crawled down from your perch at the table to get better acquainted with great-grandma. You showed her your newest toy fascination, a tiny mother cat and her mini kittens, all resting on their royal pillow. You meowed with great fervor to the accompaniment of great-grandma's supreme amazement at your volume. Your interest in the toys began to wane as you turned your attention to great-grandma's person, curious about her earrings and slacks. I chatted with grandpa and entertained baby Annie, only half-aware of your conversation with great-grandma.
I was dimly aware that you were repeating a singular question to great-grandma, but Baba's reactionary face-dive into the couch catapulted me into hyper-consciousness. My first reaction was disbelief, then horror.
Again, you repeat it in your sweet toddler accent.
Grandma, frustrated, replies that she can't understand you, honey.
Louder, you innocently ask the unspeakable again, "You have two chins?"
I flinch as Great-grandma looks over to me, her face pleading for understanding.
With alarm, I realize that I am being drawn into this conversation. I resist, stalling, hoping and praying that I am struck with inspiration to mask the awkwardness and rescue tact.
Nothing comes. The whole room seems to momentarily freeze, waiting for relief. Now both of you look at me for interpretation. I nervously laugh, hoping that you both will just forget.
My laugh sets great-grandma on edge; she suspects it's at her expense. So she urges audibly, "What is she asking?"
I cannot believe I must ask this lovely little matriarch such an awful question, but seeing there is no way around it, I plunge in, "She wants to...she wants to know if you have two chins." I stutter, willing the words to mean something less awful.
Eager to know and excited that you are finally understood, you nod your head encouragingly, offering an agreeable, "Yeah, yeah!"
Stunned, great-grandma ponders the full weight of your question, then graciously but a little confusedly replies, "Why, I guess I do! I'm not sure why..old age, I guess..."
I try to play it off, joking that I'm sure I'll have sagging chins too, as I think they run in my family.
The room collectively squirms during the ensuing silence, avoiding eye contact. Thankfully, daddy walks into the room, and we all turn our attention to him, excited by the diversion.
And that, my dear middle child, is why I anticipate my own grandchildren. I take no small pleasure in the thought of your children inheriting your delightful, daredevil personality, your zest for life, and your boundless curiosity. I relish the prospect of exasperated phone calls from you as you tell me a mother's woeful tale.
I have no doubt that justice will be served.
With all my love,