Tiny Running Toddler

A very tall father and his nearly-one-year-old daughter live across the road from my library and often swing by. Yesterday while I’m in for a board meeting, not really open, they swing by, and the little girl runs to me.

Not even 7 days ago, the small curly-headed girl was tentatively taking steps, and here she is now, rushing across our worn carpet, her smile radiant.

When my daughters were babies, I was amazed how quickly their nearly translucent fingernails grew, how rapidly a scrape healed.

Babyhood’s quicksilver, sure, but adolescence mirrors that age. My 13-year-old has changed so mightily in the last six months, in face and body, that when I arrive at soccer games and can’t easily find her — idiotic, that I can’t immediately recognize my own daughter across a field — her sister says, Look for the green cleats.

Really? I think to myself. Identify my girl by her shoes?

When I was a mother of a toddler, I would have found this situation sad, maybe even just awful, but — and this may just be a combination of worn-down single mothering and that my daughter’s busied her life with all kinds of great kid projects and friends — I find her endlessly interesting, like a blossom whose name I don’t know, opening petal by petal. Where are you headed, I wonder. Where are you going?

Because he’s so good, here’s a few more lines from Andre Dubus:

But the writer who endures and keeps working will finally know that writing the book was something hard and glorious, for at the desk a writer must try to be free of prejudice, meanness of spirit, pettiness, and hatred; strive to be a better human being than the writer normally is, and to do this through concentration on a single word, and then another, and another.


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