Monday, April 22, 2013

She Lapped Him

It's been coming for months.  Paul and Anna are deeply connected siblings. 

Two years apart, Paul has been her constant companion as she grew through milestones that every baby en route to toddlerhood does.  Crawling to walking, mush to solid food, talking in single words to sentences.  Paul has been her guide through the jungle of living in a large family, giving her access to bananas via a strategically moved chair and a bit of stealth, stashed sippy cups and teaching her that a band is ready to go within minutes if she opens up the kitchen cabinet. They both ride in car seats, sit in high chairs and aren't potty trained.  These common factors plus their mostly non verbal status made them perfect with each other.

But the same element of time that grew Anna into a perfect companion will grow her out of it, as she has begun speaking in sentences.  The very joy we feel at noticing her "firsts" is twinged with a reminder of someone else not having reached those developmental milestones. 

Last night we had lamb for a family dinner and she daintily put couscous on a fork to get every last grain.  Watching her ask for more and say "Thank you" when she did, we tried to prompt Paul to imitate her.  He gave us a few grunts which we hailed with equal enthusiasm as her full participation, but it aches to know, the tide is shifting, she will go on advancing at this swift pace, noticing and saying colors and animals and shapes, and he will move slowly, pointing at what she now names.  She will be the instigator for a time as they continue this friendship born of family and proximity and age.  She will lead him to discover the world more often, as she laps him. 

Because we have so many ages, I don't often get to marvel at the rush of time and transitions and changes as they happen, I only get to suddenly get slapped by a wave of recognition, a tide has come in or a tide has gone out, the beachhead has changed and I didn't notice until now.  

There is still a long stretch where they will be best friends, but the first whiff of when it won't be, is in the air.  I can't help but feel a bit of the loss, just as surely as when I see my 11 year old starting to peel off from her 7 year old fan who would do anything to stay in that orbit and the 16 year old starting to feel a bit shaky as the world before her looms and suddenly the house she's planned to fly away from for years seems a bit more comforting and desirable than she thought.   It is as if time is the moon and I get to watch this dance go on and on and on with the ocean trying to somehow stop moving and the sand remaining equally resolute in its stillness even as they both collide and mix and keep changing.   They want to grow up, they cannot stop, they fear the unstoppable nature of it.   

I just have to keep saying, "The next step is better. The next step is better."

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