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They are best friends, for now anyway.

They've been playing some kind of game for the last few minutes but I haven't been able to understand what they've been saying until I turned off the TV and really paid attention to their little voices. White ball, yellow ball. It doesn't make any sense, but they sound happy.

"White ball," he says.

"Why-Ball!" she repeats excitedly.

He is teaching her something, maybe her colors, that's what it sounds like. They are safely cordoned off in the kitchen so I can fold the laundry in the living room without having them destroy the rest of the house. I'll put them in the laundry room next while I do the dishes, and then put them down for a nap while I make dinner.

She squeals with laughter and I can hear her clap her chubby little hands.

"Lello-Ball!"

In a few short years, school and friends and sports and an unlimited number of other factors will cause a temporary divide between them and they will go through periods of annoyance, disloyalty, loathing, and outright hatred. But for now, they are still best friends.

He is two and a half years older and she follows him around with big babydoll eyes, watching what he does, fascinated by the things he teaches her- how to turn lights on and off and flush the toilet, even though she isn't potty trained yet. Most two year olds aren't. I hope.

'White ball," he says.

"Why-Ball!" she repeats excitedly.

Her hair is put up into two little pig tails that stick out like cartoon antennae because it is still short. Soon it will grow past her waist and I will have a hard time brushing out the ratted little knots and gum and candy while she screams and cries: daddy don't brush too hard. But for now the little sprockets bounce with every step she takes and I can picture this as I hear her squeal with delight and high pitched laughter again.

"Lello-Ball!"

His little sister keeps him company while mom and dad are busy and he loves her very much. He calls her 'Girl' and he doesn't mind that she tags along with him on adventures that he takes out into the backyard or into the garage. In fact he is braver when she is around, because he has to teach her how to be brave. She calls him 'Toe-Boy' and he would walk through fire for her.

One day an older boy will maliciously step on Girl's fingers while she is clinging desperately onto the side of a fiberglass rock-climbing wall at the park. She will scream and Toe-Boy will run to her rescue. He will wrap his arms around her waist and help her safely to the ground, kissing her little fingers all better and rubbing her hand until she stops crying. He won't remember later on but she will remind him, when he comes back home from college with a broken heart, that he has always been her hero since the day that he angrily climbed that rock wall and shoved the older boy off and shouted a bad word at him as he cried, face down, on the pavement below.

"White ball," he says.

"Why-Ball!" she repeats excitedly.

Now my curiosity is piqued but I still have a pile of clothes to fold so I'll see what they are up to in just a minute, I probably need to make them each a half PB&J too.

I won't be around much once they are in school, work will keep me away, so it will be him that teaches her how to ride a bike and blow bubbles in bubble gum. She will be able to whistle and he will be able to snap his fingers and neither one of them will be able to master the other's trick. So she will whistle and he will snap and they will play together during recess at school. At least for the first few years.

Gleeful laughter and then the carefree cheer:

"Lello-Ball!" 

I finish the laundry and stack it on the couch, I'll take it upstairs in a minute, but right now I want to peek into the kitchen without them seeing me and observe their game. It's little moments like this that I know I will miss when they are both grown and gone and I am old and alone.

I worry that I will forget these days and these moments of childhood.

"White ball."

"Why-Ball!"

Toe-Boy is standing on one of the dining room chairs wearing only his tighty whities and she is sitting on the table wearing only her diaper.

The refrigerator door is wide open and a nearly empty carton of Omega Eggs is on the table next to a baking sheet that is covered with broken egg shells and rich, golden yolks. Girl is distractedly mixing them all up with her hands while her eyes are locked on the egg that her brother is holding up over the tray with two fingers. She is smiling at him.

White ball, Yellow ball.

It makes sense now.

I ask them who made this big mess? I try to keep my voice level and not yell.

Startled, they both point, in unison, as if they had rehearsed the action, blaming it on the dog who is sleeping in a sunny spot on the carpet.

They are best friends, for now anyway.


 

 

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