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(for my daughter, on turning forty)


I was driving her home from daycare and asked,
"What did you learn in school today?"
She answered, "Never walk in front of a swing, or wait til it stops."
"Anything else?," I asked.
"Rabbits are mammals and they don't lay eggs.
Always salute a woman with an empty bag," she added.

"Why the salute?" I asked.
She answered, "All of us are girls. You're a girl. I'm a girl.
Everybody's a girl, except for boys.
The Queen is coming on a boat.
You have to be normal, Mom. No bare dancing in the hallway,
no singing Dr Pepper commercials."

"Anything else?" I asked.
With all the authority a three year old can pull off
while eating animal crackers, she said,
"If there was no earth and no mothers and fathers,
we would all be up in the clouds doing whatever we wanted.
We could have 2000 hurrahs in a day."

I stopped the car and gathered up our things,
when she asked me, "Don't you want 2000 hurrahs in a day?"
"Yes, honey, I do," I said, very tired from a long day.
"Okay, then," she said very seriously,
"Let's shake our hands to greyness."

Up brick steps, now long gone,
then two flights of stairs to our apartment,
also long gone, I started to make dinner.
She sat at the kitchen table,
with crayons and a pad of newsprint from one of my art classes.

"Some time we have to talk about a smushed dead frog,
but not tonight," she said.
I stopped cooking and started to walk over to her.
"Don't look; I should have warned you.
I'm making something like 2000 hurrahs for you."

I said, "I'm not looking. I'm kissing the top of your head."
"You're kissing the top of my head? Well, that's close to looking."

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