Truly is sitting next to me on the couch. She had built a nest or maybe a horse with the couch cushions and the arm chair and in her attempt to get on top of it, she ran across the room and vigorously threw herself over the whole mess connecting her eye with the carved arm of the chair. As his her way, she quickly and quietly collapsed next to the coffee table, clutching her face and hoping no one noticed. Her little body started shaking and Paul picked her up and she started sobbing. She now has an ice pack that is uncomfortable and she keeps pulling it off and asking me to check if the bump is getting bigger. It is. She is no stranger to black eyes and bloody elbows in this house full of boys. She is also my daughter and I was accident prone (understatement).
Nearly a year ago she turned four. She wanted a party that included a cake, two friends, no singing, and absolutely no games of any kind. If we could also not call it a "party" that would be good. At around the same time she started making eye contact with the people she saw nearly every day. Sometimes she would even speak to them. The school counselor greeted her one morning (like she always did) and Truly launched into a complicated explanation of her weekend and that was sort of it. Her imaginary pals remained more or less constant companions: D'asha, Raina, Gaita and Pickle. Pickle was always getting very sick, being teased or, in a nasty accident with an alligator, being eaten and then springing back to life only to be hit by a car.
I don't think she'll every realize how big of a fan club she had in those early days of being tied to my side. The custodians, secretaries, and teachers all knew her by name and made sure to crouch down and say hello. They slipped her donuts and stuffed bears even as they were only acknowledged by extreme side eye. They ignored her constant chatter to me as I made copies or delivered Thursday food boxes.The cashiers at the grocery store stopped offering her stickers because she solemnly refused to take one. The grandmas in the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Support Group greeted her like she was one of their own and all the crustiest middle school students knew that she was Sam's little sister. She cried (often) when people would talk to her–mostly men– and I could not leave her line of sight, even if she knew I was still in the room.
Four was the year she turned it all on its head with her constant dancing and tiny, powerful voice. It was the year she begged for sleep overs and gave her grandpa a hug and slept almost the whole night (!) in her own bed. She started school. She learned to play chess. She learned all the words to very questionable hip hop songs. She moved through the world with beauty and light and saved us from falling into a pile of parenting defeat at the end of the day.
She's laying next to me now, resting her hurt eye on the pillow and watching me type while calling out letters she recognizes. In a minute she will fall asleep mid-sentence, right after she's asked for a drink of water and something else to eat. She's wearing hand-me-down pajamas from her brothers which were hand-me-down pajamas from Sally Imo in Korea. Paul will carry her to bed in the room across from ours and at about 3 in the morning she will find a way to squeeze her giant feet down in between the two of us in our bed.
We will sigh and try to make room and know that this will part will turn on its head soon, too.