Once upon a time there was a little girl

Once upon a time

The other morning, settled in the darkness, before my alarm went off, I heard Charlotte’s voice declare, “Once upon a time.” I turned my ear toward the door and listened as she continued to talk to everyone and to no one at the same time. I heard her feet pitter patter on the wood floors and books being organized on the bookshelf. With every movement, her voice offered a story.

When I reached her room, I peered inside and saw her Elsa doll in a small crib next to her stuffed animals. Each of them perched upright listening intently.

“Were you reading to your dolls and stuffed animals?” I asked her.

“Yes, this is school and I’m the teacher. See, here’s my book.” She sits down on her bed and proceeds to tell a story.

There was a little girl who loved to read

“Mmmmm. Aaaaaa. Pppppp. Map! Map!

I lift my hand for a high five. “Good job, Charlotte. That’s right!” Then without a moment of hesitation, she moves on to the next word.

It’s been almost three months since Charlotte started full-time kindergarten and everyday she asks, “Is today a school day?” I feel as if I can see right into her brain and I can see the wheels turning, the neurons firing, and the connections being made. Everyday there is something new to explore and share. Everyday the world opens up to her a little more.

Bedtime has always been our time to read books as a family. For the past five years Stephen or I have been the ones reading the books. Not anymore. Charlotte will grab a book, plop herself on our coffee table, and hold the book in front of us to see the pictures. I watch as she licks her pointer finger and turns the page, a movement she must be witnessing from her teacher.

“What does the author do?” She asks.

I begin to answer and am immediately interrupted, “No, you have to raise your hand!”

“What does the illustrator do?”

Isaac chimes in with his hand in the air, “Draws the pictures.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Charlotte tells him as she turns the page.

We’re all learning along with Charlotte.

And cared for her friends and family

“It’s time for bed, lay down now, Charlotte.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“I’m not done yet, Mama.” Oblivious to my hurry, Charlotte takes her time. She gently lifts her Elsa baby doll to her lips for a kiss before placing her on her sleeping bag and covering her head so it’s just peeking out from the covers. Next to Elsa she lays her pink giraffe, two friends keeping each other company. Charlotte bends down to fluff the blankets and offers one more kiss.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’ve stopped rushing her now, so I can marvel at the care she’s giving to her toys.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Charlotte finally hops into bed satisfied that Elsa and her giraffe are comfortable. Covering herself with blankets I see her take one final look at her toys before she turns to me, “Tuck me in, Mama.”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I walk to her bed. I lean in and kiss her, just as she did to her toys, and give thanks for the small moments of wonder and learning. She reminds me of the importance of taking time for the ones we love.

Who shared her smile with everyone

The multitude of conversations this year, 2020, seem to revolve around what we have lost and what we didn’t get to do. Yet, Charlotte reminds me to observe a different narrative.

One not of scarcity, but abundance.
One not of lament at what wasn’t, but joy at what was.
One not of missed opportunities, but of tiny moments celebrated with joy.
One not of isolation, but of community coming together to care for one another.

This little girl of mine turns 6 on November 24th. She’s both my fairytale and my dream come true. She’s joy and hope. She’s my story still unfolding, an adventure with every turn of the page.