You are asleep with your knees tucked under your chest and your bum up in the air. The right side of your hair is sticking out wildly; a knot has formed on the back. I stealthily creep to your closet to get a set of clothes and shoes, then gently quiet the babbling brook emanating from the machine on your changing table. You become aware of my presence and pop your head up. A smile brightens your sleepy face.
"Good morning, pumpkin," I whisper, crossing to your crib. You stumble to your feet, tripping over White Blankie, Pink Blankie (previously known as "Two Blankie"), and the latest addition, Checked Blankie, as well as your musical, glowing Seahorse and Pillow Pet, Duckie. It's a wonder there's room for you to sleep in there.
A smile blossoms on your petal-soft lips. "Time go, Mama?" your teeny voice queries.
You reach for me, and I lift you to my chest. You bury your head in my neck, and I gently squeeze you and breathe in your scent - no longer a baby, not quite a little girl. You are getting too heavy to lift out of there, but you haven't quite made the transition to your Big Girl Bed. Nap time, occasionally, but only once or twice for Night Night.
"Sissy is already downstairs. We've got to take her to preschool."
Your precious mouth makes a perfect "o" shape and you suck in air with a genuine look of surprise, even though we do this every Tuesday and Thursday. "Oh! Sissy go school!"
I quickly change your diaper, and you insist on closing the diaper cream and putting it in your drawer. As I place your favorite Elmo shirt on your head, you challenge me, "I do, Mama! I do!" Together, we finish getting you dressed and head down to the kitchen. Some days you want me to carry you, and some you must walk down on your own, holding my hand and the spindles of the railing for support.
Your eyes light up at the sight of S. "Sissy!"
S is glad to see you, too, most mornings. "Hi, Baby R!"
I set you in your booster seat and you ask for "email" which is oatmeal to the rest of us. You're getting better at using your spoon successfully, but you love to tip the bowl and drink the milk. Which you don't always wait to do until the end. Inevitably there's oatmeal in your hair. It adds a lovely dimension to your bedhead.
You could not be more beautiful.