January 08, 2011

Moments of Childishness

Jessica emerges from brushing her teeth to the kitchen where I'm wiping down a counter.

"Dad, look at me." She's cheerful and eager and slightly bouncing with excitement. "Is this my tongue or is it a piece of candy between your teeth? I mean my teeth."

She grins proudly. In the middle of the grin she's clenching hard on the tip of her tongue. Bright red from the biting (or is her new fluoride rinse red?) it looks almost like a hard candy stuck onto her front teeth.

I roll my eyes and answer "It's your tongue."

It retracts, and her eyes flicker sincere disappointment before she says in mock anger, "I can't believe you got it!" and stomps off to her bedroom.

Immediately I'm a little sorry I didn't play along.

Because these moments of true childishness—the ones that happen when she invents a funny face instead of brushing her teeth, or when Nathaniel mutters mechanically "God bless me" after sneezing, or when their first instinct as I approach any room is to hide and startle me—these moments are becoming rare.

Poise and self-awareness are still newcomers to our house. I welcome them, but I'm a little sad to see them taking my children away.

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