Somehow she's four years old. She wants her hair long and curly. She prefers dresses to anything else. She likes to sniff my neck and say, "Mom, you smell like roses!" Even when that can't be true. Because we're both sweaty and covered in chalk from the climbing gym.
She is powerful. Her little biceps go taut as she swings from rope to rope like Tarzan. Who she swears must be a girl because of his long hair. Okay, so Tarzan can be a girl. Who cares? Tarzan the ape woman.
When she wakes in the morning, she's all smiles. Ready to play. Ready to giggle. She rides her bike fast, pumping with strong legs on the uphill and careening down the downhill.
She took a major crash the other day. I wasn't there, but I found her at home with bandages on every knee and elbow. Her sweet little Holstein cow patterned helmet had a scary looking scrape-crunch on the front, bad enough to retire it and get her a new one. This time she picked a helmet that looks like outerspace: black and sparkly and covered with colorful planets.
At any given moment she might break into song. Usually Let it Go. She likes to stand in the center of the room while our Sonos sings backup. She swings her arms around and pretends to shoot and spray ice from her hands, creating a spectacular frozen palace.
The word most people use after spending a little time with her is intent. When she wants to figure something out, she narrows in on it and thinks. She can spend a solid forty-five minutes sitting at the table playing with perler or watercolors. When she's up on the wall, she'll hang by one hand, grope for chalk with the other, and consider the moves ahead of her like a climber three or four times her age.
And she asks questions. A million questions. Peppered through conversations, mealtimes, storytimes.
"What does 'society' mean?"
"Why did Disney die?"
"Why do frogs have long tongues?"
"How far is the moon?"
"When is my birthday? Why is your birthday first?"
"Why do some people have big tummies?"
"Why do people drop garbage on the ground?"
"What is a 'bad guy?'"
"How are babies made?"
"What does camouflage mean?"
"Where do summerflies sleep?"
When she uses the word summerfly, I smile. It's Norwenglish, a combo of sommerfugle and butterfly. She's fluent in both languages, but sometimes these delightful mash-ups happen. Too soon, she'll realize and stop making this error. She'll perfect herself. I mourn that day already.
Today, she started at a new barnehage. There was no real way around it. Her little friends--made over the last three years--have also scattered to other barnehages around the neighborhood. Heading into our first transitional day, we were both a little nervous. We talked about how we felt inside. A little tight, a little sad, a little flutter. Like having summerflies in our tummies.
Her new class at barnehage is called Sommerfuglen.
When we walked into her new classroom, a teacher and a little girl we've met in the neighborhood were sitting on the bench inside the door. Waiting for us. They jumped up and welcomed the Hazelnut. The other little girl took her hand and showed her where to put her backpack, where to run off and start playing with trains.
There was barely a pause. A big, blue-eyed glance over her shoulder to see me waiting. Her long, dark blond hair has a hint of strawberry to it. Her porcelain cheeks are still my favorite feature.
It's been a while since I wrote about motherhood here. What a tremendous task. A mammoth task. But that's what motherhood feels like to me a lot of the time. One overwhelming, blurry run of joy and fear and brilliance and ignorance and triumph and failure. When I'm lucky enough to catch my breath and focus on any little piece of it in the light, though, the beauty takes my breath away.
A summerfly's wings are covered in powdered scales that appear from a distance as swirling patterns of color. The colors are there to reflect or absorb heat, to identify friends, to attract mates, to confound predators, to pick up pollen and spread it to the surrounding ecosystem. To make the world a more beautiful place.
My little summerfly took a big step today. She's up for it. Ready to be a big kid, ready to figure out even more of the world. I hope I'm up for answering more of her questions. I hope I can encourage her to continue to be brave and creative, keep her safe on the big walls. I hope I can continue to be chill enough to let her crash her bike, cry on my shoulder, dust herself off, and pedal away again. Farther this time.
As far as her brilliantly patterned wings will carry her.