We’re regulars at the library now, and it shows.  She walks in with a purpose.  Pausing briefly at the circulation desk, she returns her DVD to the proper bin and then places her books in their return location.  She waves as she walks past the librarians, though she does not pause long enough for recognition.  Occasionally, she greets the fish as she passes the tank, but most often she heads toward the DVD collection or stops to tinker at the computer station.  She wants to play with the dinosaurs or the foam building structures, though Mommy usually instructs her to find replacement books for those we have returned.

Reluctantly, she obliges – – especially if she can use the step stool to find something fresh on the top shelf.  I think the climb gives her a feeling of power. She’s a big girl, now.

We’re not beyond tantrums.  Though not usually this foolish in nature, she often tries to cry when she can’t get her way. We’ve learned, as all children do, that begging and acting out don’t produce positive results.

After selecting her books, Ri has decided that self-checkout is more interesting than assisted.

No, we don’t get the stickers, but there wasn’t much variety in those, so she doesn’t see reward in them. Instead, she likes to search out the barcodes and scan her own books.  If the stool is there, she climbs up on it.  Yes, we take awhile to check out, but she is happy to complete this step independently.

Passersby get a kick out of watching this miniature scholar in her uniform flitting through her stack of books, lining up each bar code carefully with the red scanner line and waiting for the confirmation beep.

Then, she packs her new collection into her backpack and hurries to the door.

Hide the shadows!

She learns by watching, this much is clear.  And now that she has taken interest in “make ups,” my collection of shadows and lipsticks are vulnerable.

Grey hair… why care?

A stop light. A routine afternoon glance into my vanity mirror.  A glint of hair too bright.

I gasp.  I tilt my head to see it clearer.  I free the strands nearest my ear.  Nestled contentedly within the black I see it. Is that tiny shine a… grey hair?


Suddenly, I feel some kinda way – – and that indescribable feeling washed over me.

I dial Mom’s cell. After a few rings, I disconnect.  She’s busy at work and can’t answer a private line.

I dial Hub’s cell.  The prerecorded lady answers on his behalf asking me to leave a message.

Silver and white streaks in one’s hair is a symbol of wisdom, I’ve heard.

My brothers have had them – and increasingly thinning hair – for years now.  But at 37, I’d never seen a white or silver hair on my head.

Perhaps I panicked in making my calls.  It was only a matter of time that my hair would no longer grow black. And yet, there was this sudden shock –  a finality of adulthood – in my discovery.  I’m now officially old.  I’m twenty years past high school graduation.  My first born daughter is in high school.  Rico is just shy of completing his diploma. I suspect my appearance will now quickly reflect my years.

Mom assured me there are many more lights in my dark tresses.  {Should I breathe a sigh of relief on that information?} Hubs merely laughed, feeling, I suspect, that finally I was joining the club.

I get it.  I’ll accept it. Life continues to move forward.  I’ve got so much yet to do.

This is four (CINCO edition)

“Happy birthday to RiAnne. Happy birthday to you [pause] RiAnne.” She’s downright giddy as she sings.

“Mom, I’m four,” she says, holding out her hand for me to count her fingers. “Not this one,” she says as she folds her thumb against her palm.

For a few days now, she’s danced around sporadically voicing greetings: “Mom, happy Santa Claus. Happy Christmas. Happy birthday to me. Happy holly-day. Mom, merry Christmas.”

This year she’s especially festive — she’s excited about reaching this age.

And honestly, so are we.  She is the tangible evidence of us.  Our unexpected dream fulfilled.

Over the last year, Ri has become a spirited, tenacious little lady.  She gave hints that she would make her own decisions long ago. And now she continues to impress on us that her opinion will be heard. In the mornings, she insists: “no pants. I want pretty dress.” She has made it clear: beautiful is a woman in a skirt or dress.

She chooses her hair ornaments and style. She picks between sneakers, boots, and strappy dress shoes.  She decides on tights, leggings, lace socks, or bare legs. And she smiles in approval when her look is complete. I’m surprised she finds so much personality in her look while at a school where uniforms are donned four days a week.

Despite the determined way she dictates her going-out attire, she’s most content in her underthings and leaves a daily trail of clothes from the front door to the staircase.  Inside, she wants to be comfortably free.

She still has a gnat’s attention span, and yet she can remember landmarks to give directions. She knows countless lyrics (turn it up, Mom, me help me song?) and still hollers “Not you, my song,” when she wants a solo sing along.

She’s fiercely into policing our language. “That’s a bad word” has become her favorite chastisement. Warning: I don’t care is part of the naughty list.

Still a bathing beauty, she’ll sit until the water grows cold in four inches of tub water (with bubbles) crafting elaborate dramas with her dolls. She never did explain why many of them now have scribbled on faces and she’d never tell where their clothes have been hidden.

Ri loves YouTube. Somehow, she finds the most inane videos of people opening surprise eggs and packets,  of skits with people in Spidey masks and Disney princess costumes, of voice over-rich videos of Baby Alive being force-fed.  She briefly enjoyed watching movie trailers, then Masha and the Bear (especially in Russian), but now she seems stuck on these odd finds.  She recently found a short animation about a voodoo doll and has had it on repeat. We’re  constantly cleaning out the recommendations that are based on her viewing choices.

It’s been an interesting year. Now that she’s a returning student, she’s established herself as a popular little scholar. Though she still challenges her teachers (refusing sometimes to complete assignments), she is described as kind, happy, and polite.

She loves her sister and brothers – Rico, Wawa, Yaya, JD. She loves hugs. She pilfers abandoned drinks. She likes to finger paint, read books, and tell short stories while animating them with her gestures.  She likes to go to the movies, to Golden Corral, and to ‘Donald’s for hamburbers and a toy.

And so we begin age four, year five.

Future fashion designer 

She has a tenacious tendancy to undress her dolls.  It’s no surprise, she comes out of her clothes upon entering the house. There’s a trail of discards leading from the front door to wherever she ends up.

Today, though, she decided to dress her doll.  She emptied her newly puchased play dough canisters – all eight of them – and began mixing and blending the colors. Then she crafted a dress.

I was in the middle of collecting pesky crumbs from my bedsheets ,  lecturing her yet again that play dough is only for the kitchen table. Growing aggravated by my failure to get all of the multicolored pieces up, I turned to speed up her ejection from the room. It was then that I saw Tiana’s new wardrobe.  And I could  no longer be mad. I had to take a picture.


Later, while sitting downstairs, she began work on a second design. And she proudly let me photograph that dress, too. Then, she balled it up and began anew.

Perhaps this is the beginning of something.

Milking it

Dear Ri,


You upset your dad today.  He told you you had to use the restroom before he poured you a cup of juice.  You agreed and waited.  Then, when he was sufficiently occupied with work preparation,  you helped yourself to the milk.  Thank you for using a straw.  Even though dad’s a little mad, you technically did not disobey.  You did not drink the juice. I wouldn’t recommend,  however, that you display your intelligence like this again.  He won’t take it well.

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