Hardly anyone knows this, but when my younger daughter was 2, her older sister and I bought her a used pair of pink rubber boots with kitty cat faces on the toes. These boots gave incredible joy to this blond-haired little girl, and she wore them until the boots were actually in shreds. Today, she wears her first adult boots – with flowers, of course – but yet fully woman-sized, larger than my own feet. The girl’s been walking around all afternoon, admiring these boots, marveling at the size of her growing feet, a bit mystified at how this happened.
A very much desired and longed-for younger sister, this girl was graced with an exceptionally long cosseted period, carried on her sister’s back and hip long beyond the time most children are required to walk by themselves. While her older sister began speaking well before her first year, the younger daughter had a prolonged echolalia phase. I had been told to record those singing syllables, lovelier than a hermit thrush’s song, but even then I knew that dear sound rang in our ears merely in passing and had the sense that to let that fleetingness go.
Enjoy the flowers on your boots, lovely one.
When voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still…
– William Blake, “Nurse’s Song” (Innocence)