|Yes, that's a hole in the top. And those gray stripes|
aren't ribs, but grime.
Snuggler looked at me with mock horror and clasped the tattered thing to her. "But it's part of my childhood!" she protested.
I pointed to the ripped fabric, the gray streaks of dirt, the bent ribs and replied subtly, "C'mon -- it's a piece of junk! Take a picture of it and then throw it away!"
But Snuggler switched moods and said softly, "But I've already lost three things that are precious from my childhood!"
Stop. Pay attention here, Mom. Something's up. I stared at her and said, "Huh. What three things?"
She said shyly, "I can't bump down the stairs any more. My legs are too long."
I nodded. I'd liked bumping down the steps when I was a kid, too. There was a long pause.
She said, "I'm too big to pick up."
I nodded. I remembered realizing I wasn't little-girl cute any more, and how no one wanted to pick me up. I was seven then.
She said, "And you remember how we always used to clear off the coffee table and light candles and say evening prayers together? I really liked that!"
I thought back to that "always", the two or three times we had evening devotions around a candle, until erratic preschoolers and girls with flyaway hair near the candle flame made it clear that that was a lovely -- and disastrous -- idea.
I pulled up an "always" memory of my brother and sister and I piling into my parents' bed one Saturday morning, and laughing and tickling and joking around. I thought about how some things in childhood feel so right and wonderful that even if they happen once it feels like always. And how as parents we try to give our kids those memories, and they end up choosing their own.
Snuggler interrupted my reverie to ask, "If I find somewhere to keep the umbrella in my room where you can't see it, can I keep it?"
I nodded absently, adding a grumbled warning of, "But if I find it..."
She scooted off, with the ratty but beloved umbrella in tow. Even I, the toss-aholic, haven't the heart to make her toss it.