Can a stretched smile, broken through by a crooked milk tooth continue to be cute when drawn upon different backgrounds?
"Mummy, I op. I op, Mummy. MUMMY, MUUUUMMY!"
My bed is warm. I am wrapped in fresh white cotton sheets, beneath a duvet that covers me like a soft pillow. The morning sun creeps along my body and I wait for it to touch my face. I don't want to get up, yet. I feel your father's hand around my waist, and move back into his curve and it's perfect. Shh, he says, maybe she will fall back to sleep and there is a pause and we wait with hope.
"MMMMUUUMMY! I! OP!"
Ugh, I say as I roll out of bed and land on the floor on all fours. I hear your dad laugh, "You insisted on finishing the bottle." I look at him and grunt and then at the clock, 5:40.
I walk into your room. stomping across the laminate, like a klutzy giant sneaking into a doll house filled with miniature chairs, desk and a low mirror that catches my graceful self. I see a tiny little bed with a barely visible imprint of you, lost underneath a quilt. I stand above you and smile, "Morning littlest one, you're up early." "I Tyed." Your chubby little arms stretch up to me. I lean down like a fork lift and you climb on. I squeeze you as I had my pillow, "You want to cuddle with daddy and mommy." Your hands slap my cheeks again , again and again, "I go 'n Mommy bed." I bring you into my room and plop you in the middle of the bed, not really for a cuddle or 5 more minutes of rest, but to torture your father and now I watch you smack his face again and again and he looks at me and smiles. He gets up to go to work.
I wander down the dark hall with you trailing behind. "Where goin'? Where goin! Mama. Mama! Where you goin'! "Shower", I say. "I come wittu!" "Hmmm. OK, honey. You come with me." Standing in the tub. I feel the water hit the back of my neck and spread across my shoulders. My eyes slowly open. "I see ya boobies, Mummy." and you giggle, little hands covering a little mouth. I turn my back to you in a moment of modesty. "You gotta big butt, Mummy." I then turn back around and splash you. You laugh thinking its funny, you pull the wet curtain back and put your arm in the water feeling the splash hit your face and neck again and again.
I step out from the shower, towel myself, towel you and then clean the floor. Looking at you, your eyes squinting, becoming watery, followed by noises, pushing noises. "Let's go to the potty." "No!" you reply. "Yes," I say and I turn you towards the waiting Pooh bear pulling off your bottoms and nappies. I am too late and I clean the floor again.
After three dressings, you still do not feel that my dress sense has captured your true ballerina persona. "Ballerina, Mommy. I ballerina." You arms float through the air, leg lifts, eye brows arch upward and your smile becomes a serious expression, only broken through by the same crooked milk tooth. "But it is pink," I am aware that time is ticking away. "No," you stand firm. "Pardon me but I am the mother and you are the little girl, now wear the dress." I put it over your head, pull your arms through and wipe your hair from your eyes. You frown, quite distinctively, pushing your chin into your neck. "I not little girl; I big girl, ballerina." I turn to walk away. You pull off the dress, lean diagonally against the wall, held up by your head and sulk. I think, "Finally, I can get dressed in peace."
Breakfast works basically the same way. "I do. I do." You demand as you take the cereal box from my hand and cover the counter in flakes and crumbs, some managing to get into your pink plastic bowl. I stand firm on the milk, you concede and I pour. I watch you from above my coffee mug. You look up and smile. I smile back, breathing slow and deep, looking at the clock. Door opens, Grandpa enters, "Hello, Grampa!" you shout in your sweetest cherub voice. Grandpa, one of your private chauffeurs, has brought your car. I help you to your chariot, kiss you goodbye, shut the door and then cease to exist in your world.
At the end of the day, I return from work and you return to me. We cuddle until you tell me your tummy wobbly. I scoop out my best attempt from the slow cooker. The kitchen becomes an airfield and your mouth the landing and after fifteen minutes of my arms flying through the air, the first landing occurs. You smile and then reject delivery all over the plate and smile. I give you yogurt and a bottle of milk and repeat my mantra of calmness.
I see your father in the distance, helping sissy with homework. He looks at the clock, gives me the wink and grins. The race is on. "Bathtime." we both say with smiles on our faces. He whispers my favourite words, "Chinese takeaway." I giggle, excited. Everything from this moment on is routine and the reward is in sight. Bath goes swimmingly, robes and towels found and sorted. Mermaid nightgown found. You're put into bed and books read, incessant questions interrupt but I pursue. I hear your father leave to pick up the food, I think about my pyjamas and slippers, about that show that was recorded last week. "Cuddle time, then you go Bo Bo and I go bye bye." I say, maybe in a bit of an assertive manner. However, you demand that I climb into your matchbox of a bed. I try and you wrap your arms around my neck and kiss my nose. Again I hear the clock tick.
"I luv vu a buckle and a peck, a buckle and a peck and a ...Pause...a a luv you!" You sing and smile again showing that crooked tooth. That silly crooked tooth that you seem to take pride in, as if it is a ticket to get out of all the mischief you create. It is. I shut off the stopwatch and just tickle you.
The constant cuteness of you. I thank evolution for that. I also thank my poor memory because later, when you are actually a "big girl," I will tell you that you were no problem at all and that you were very funny and made us laugh all the time and that will make you happy. It will only be when you have your own child that I might consider being a bit more honest.