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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Ruby has discovered the joys of tormenting our dog Lola. Her new favorite pastime is grabbing Lola's tail and being swept along behind her, shrieking with glee, as Lola tries frantically to disengage her. No matter how many times I tell Ruby not to grab Lola's tail, I am inevitably hearing a little voice scream " I GET LOLA!" followed by the crash of some antique piece of furniture and a low growl. Luckily, Lola is a good sport.
Ruby has also discovered how to scream at the precise pitch of long fingernails scraping a chalkboard. Imagine a falcons cry as it descends to slaughter a mouse, or the short stattaco burst of screeching tires, and you will have a good idea of the pure noise that comes out of my daughters mouth, usually aimed directly into the dog's ears as she is helpfully holding them open.She has even begun making that sound in her sleep, I can only guess she's dreaming about yelling at the dog.
I'm secretly glad my daughter is such a barbarian. I take some kind of perverse pride in my little wild animal, knowing that if we were ancient cave dwellers she would probably already have made her first kill. I want my child to be strong. I want her to face the dangers and heartbreaks of life and roar.
Months ago, watching some commercial on Lifetime with my dad, something about child abduction, I turned to him and said, "I fully understand now how you would willingly die for your child. If someone stole my baby I could easily kill them."
"Time is stealing your baby every day." he grinned. What a bastard!
But it's true, I think about that a lot. I've never been more aware of the inexorable change wrought by time than since i had ruby. I am hungry for every second spent holding her little heavy body. Every time she curls like a kitten under my arm, every minute spent breathing in her hair, every caress of her little arm, I am aware that she will someday be walking out of my kitchen door, in heels, on her way to a date. She may have a bluetooth, or it's futuristic equivalent.She may chide me about my taxes, or forget to call me for weeks because she is in love. The specter of her adult self is always present, standing beside me as I tickle her feet.

We have a friend whose 9 year old son was just diagnosed with leukemia. I only have to type those words and my eyes tear up for her. I can't let myself imagine her heartbreak. Even though her child will be treated, and probably come out okay, she will suffer every second of his pain, sickness and discomfort. The only way to honor it is to fervently thank the universe every minute I have a healthy child.
When I lay down next to her at night, I say a mental hello to her tiny organs, so independent, tirelessly keeping her alive and healthy. I imagine her heart, the size of an apricot, beating in the rhythm of my voice as I sing to her. Good job heart!
I see her lungs, fluttering open and closed like butterfly wings, filtering the oxygen her body needs to survive. Excellent work my friends!
I see her intestine coiled like an earthworm, drawing vitamins from the vegetables we bribe her to eat every day. Keep on moving-don't stop! I'll reward you with a cupcake tomorrow little guy.
I see the complex beauty of her tiny reproductive organs, little uterus like a teacup, her ovaries already containing the seeds of the next generation like a universe of stars compacted into a pinhead. I see her blood speeding through the highways of minute veins, knowing exactly where to go. Her brain, making connections at the speed of light, storing memories of me that will make her feel loved and whole throughout her life, although she won't quite know why.
What a miracle these children are! How perfect and amazing that their little bodies do so much, so well, making them grow and thrive. How do they do it? Some kind of blueprint we perfected through trial and error. It only took a few million years.