Blink and (perigee four)

10 09 2017

“And you miss it,” they say, where “it” equals absolutely everything small children do and look like and sound like and sleep like and make you think of and are; it consumes you, and then you blink, and it’s over, and you’re old, and you’re sure it was sweet in addition to exhausting, but you can’t really remember.  Evanny is going to be 5 in two weeks, and two posts down I was writing about her being about to turn 4.  Tabitha has already turned 3; two posts down her sister was still 3, and she was only hovering around the flip to two.  They’re back at perigee, three-and-four, sharing almost as many clothes as they have to differentiate on, forgetting within days whose new toys were meant to be whose, playing and talking together all the time about everything, so far up each others’ grills that it’s no wonder every day is a fast-turning tide of “I love you so much!” (that rich, wet sand ripe for footprints and stick-art and possibility) and “I don’t want to play with you EVER AGAIN!” (the flood, the salt-water-up-the-sinuses inundation of too much, too much, too much).

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Little explorers check out a floating dock, a computer game at a local library, a play-store stocked with plastic “tins,” and the concept of the duet.

Although it didn’t technically start until Tab’s birthday 5 weeks ago, it’s been a perigee summer: the girls, who are referred to as “the girls” as often as by name these days (there are so few occasions anymore when anyone needs or wants to be identified as “the baby”), in addition to doing absolutely everything together at home and on our few small jaunts, shared a class for swim lessons, shared another for gymnastics, and attended a week-long “Princess dance camp” together; next week marks the start of the fall season of Soccer Shots, and this time Tabitha is old enough to join Evanny’s class so they can share that too.  (And yes, dear lord, this is what my life has come to, already: two small girls means a playroom floor littered with dress-up clothes, a bedroom littered with considered-and-rejected outfits, toy-bins full of miniature plastic animals and sparkly miniature combs and hair clips, flip-flop wars, My Little Pony curls snarled into everything, puff-stickers on the floor, foil stickers on the wallpaper, nail polish on the deck, and Princess Dance Camp.)  They have similar roughness-levels of splash-pool play and similar attention spans for zoo visits and museums.  Tab can hold her own as a hanger-on at Evanny’s playdates.  They have similar needs for traveling and similar tendencies to fall asleep in the car.  They have similar coloring skills and interests–Evanny’s ability stretches further, but Tab has the perseverance not to mind. They swap tricycles even though neither one of them can reach the pedals very well; they swap nightgowns and tell me I’m putting them away in the wrong drawer no matter where I put them.  They’re both perfecting their written alphabets (and they both have a ways yet to go). They’re starting, just starting, to have a little trouble folding into the bath together–they love the camaraderie, and the small-toy adventures, and the tidal-wave swimming, but the colt-legs are coming, and all those knees. (This progress, fortunately, is not yet too-too far along; last week they and their basically-almost-cousin Darcy still fit just fine as a criss-cross set of three, de-mudding after a rainy day hike with her family.)

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Baking together at Lola’s house, sharing secrets and penny-wishes at a mall fountain, snuggling in princess dresses in the morning bed, and giggling together in the deck-build doorway.

It’s shaping up to be a perigee year, really.  In all the little ways, they’re very much together lately–they fight over my lap, and then when I move, they fight over how to puppy-pile on each other.  They like and request the same picture books.  They like most of the same foods (Tabitha has recently won Evanny over to the ranch side, which opens up all sorts of possibilities, like eating lettuce). They play with the same toys and embrace the same fandoms and shift easily from one to another, following each others’ whims, mermaids and Star Wars and princesses and dragons, sometimes all within the space of an hour (and at least nine outfits), and the coinciding is lining up nicely with scheduling out-in-the-world activities for the school year: in addition to soccer, when we do the next round of swim lessons, they’ll still be at the same level, and while Ev has bumped up a level in gymnastics, barely, it’s really more like a half-step.  They still have class at the same time and both get their little hands stamped at the end of every session.  Most importantly, though, most-likely-to-be-life-changingly: this will be their one shared year in Montessori school, climbing out of the car together at drop-off every morning, off to Maple cottage, where Evanny will be finishing up her primary circuit, and Oak cottage, where Tab will be starting hers.  They’re both deliriously excited about this, of course, but they aren’t the only ones whose lives are about to change.

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Who follows whom? (The answer always changes) Down the creek, up a tree, across the water wearing practice-wings, and across the new deck to taunt Papa and his promised belly-button tickles!

For the first time since Evanny was an infant, I’m going to try to accomplish my part-time teaching job without hiring a sitter this year, because I’ll have a couple of hours every morning when both girls will be at school and I can work.  Both: their perigee brings them so close together this time that they’re doing the same thing at the same time every day, not just for a weeknight sport or a week-long morning day-camp.  It’s a little change–three consistent hours of morning time to allocate responsibly by my own choice–and so common, and so easy to get caught up in the relief of: this is going to save us money!  And I’ll be able to type with two hands!  And the same time!  And maybe even hold a train of thought for more than two consecutive sentences!  My students will be meeting a whole new me!  But it’s also something much bigger: even as there’s a concentration of their togetherness this year, this same indicator is the start of the slide.  Half-day now, full-day soon enough, after-school activities, sports and parties and school plays–the hours they spend where I’m not are going to start to add up this year, and they will never subtract again. We three will never spend more time together than we did last year, when Ev was still in half-day and Tab only at Katy’s 2 mornings a week.  And then we’ll never spend as much time together again as we will this year, when I still have one in only-half and even the long-day girl comes out tired and smiling by 2:45.

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Enjoying the end of the perigee summer with puzzle games, a giant swing, melty, crumbly lakeside s’mores, and a deck-rail water-spitting contest.

And most significantly, most gather-yourself-in-advance-for-the-heartbreakingly, these social growth-spurts mean that even as they spend this year in concord in so many ways, they’ll never spend as much time together as they did before, when their activities were more like one kid in and one toddler playing catch-up: different classes at school means they’re spending their time in different cottages, establishing different friend-circles (and new school-friends will mandate that the guest-list for their birthday parties are unlikely to ever coincide again, already.  Already.); different interests are sure to bloom soon after.  So close together (oh, my kangaroos) and yet here at their closest, I can see the future reel, and it’s so subtly already starting to widen the circles of their dances, to fling those tiny arms out and away, a little longer every day, a little farther from their centers, and each others’ hearts, and mine.

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Bedtime storytime for two (who still like the same stories).

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