Who is this beautiful, wonderful child? How did I stumble upon a life in which this amazing little person slips her hand into mine and yells "Yay! It's a beautiful day!" She's weird and silly, serious and attentive, observant and absolutely given to the world of imagination.
She is a poet. She tells her her hands are kissing each other in her sweatshirt pocket. She gazes up at the kite we are flying and tells me the birds will be happier now. She cups my face in her two hands and gazes lovingly into my eyes -- with a grown-up kind of wisdom -- and says, "I love you, my mommy. I DO."
Her imagination is a whole world. I bask in the innocence of it, the intensity of it. She tests out ideas: "Maybe, when we catch the leprechaun," (her older brother and sister were making a leprechaun trap the night before St. Patrick's Day), "we can cut him up and eat him?" She consoles herself: when Ali shows up at the dentist, where TK is trembling in the chair because the dentist holds a drill and is talking about getting rid of the brown spot on TK's teeth, TK lets herself fall entirely into Ali's story that this dentist appointment is actually for Purple (TK's beloved little stuffed creature, who has just two prominent and very yellow teeth). In an attempt to make Purple feel better, TK agrees to let the dentist drill. Ali dutifully pretends to drill Purple's tooth.
For a sensible, rule-following little girl, TK's imagination knows few boundaries. She asks sometimes, "But is it REAL?", but she whole-heartedly believes in fairies, in gods and goddesses, in monsters, in the ability of her stuffed animals to talk and feel and listen, in magic. I revel in her widened eyes. I love to tell her stories at night -- I love the way she follows the narrative (better than many of my middle schoolers, better than some adults), the way she wants to talk about it afterwards. One night, I told her a story about a magic door that let us into my grandma's house, where TK got to meet my grandma (who died several years ago). The next morning, TK asked, "When the magic door opens again, we could have a cookie, right?"
Each morning, we talk to the "friends" -- the crowd of stuffed animals TK gathers close to her at night, carries out with her when she wakes in the morning, puts to bed at night. Each night, a different friend has a sorrow -- we are doctor and assistant, interviewing the small stuffed animal, delving into his/her issues (I do all the voices). When we go out during the day -- to school, or for a walk, or to the store -- TK tells me what the friends are doing -- why they can't come, too. Today, they were watching a movie; sometimes they are at the pool.
I'm not capturing her essence in these words. My words fail me. She laughs, and I think I have never heard a sweeter sound. She tells rambling, random stories -- attempting the narrative structure of her older siblings and of her two mothers -- and I love every silly word. "We are full of sillinesses!" she proclaims, and I want to just hug her close and love her and be amazed forever. She reminds me to imagine more, to laugh more, to spread my arms more to the world and proclaim its beauty.