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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

E's birthday (part 1)

E woke up before me, and began her birthday by playing in the half-light of the kitchen with tiny dolls. A thick white fog hid the city beyond our courtyard and the raindrops dangling outside the window. She told me to be the prince who was coming to her restaurant, and to eat lime jello. I made coffee, and studied her as she shouted out the doll's dialogue. Five, now - which means I've been a father for five years.

We played dolls being pregnant and drew pictures of girls, always girls with wide eyes and long hair. Legs like a giraffe's, necks like swans. We put them on the fridge. Time for her mother to take her as we had agreed, only her mother decided not to come and now we'll somehow go out in the rain and tromp to school, late. And now E is sobbing because she doesn't want to go to school, she wants to spend the day with me and I must somehow get warm tights on her and a skirt, somehow brush her hair a little, wiping hot tears from her cheeks, putting the right dolls in the right bag to take with her.

Downstairs, I realize we should have brought umbrellas.
We go back up, making faces at each other through the mirror in the elevator.

And suddenly, it's the first time she opens her Hello Kitty umbrella outside for months, and we splash in the puddles. I sing to her raindrops keep falling on my head and laugh at the significance of the words.

because I'm free,
and nothing's worrying me.

I wonder if she cries because she wishes she was free. Well, we're free to splash in puddles at least, to march down the street and buy an eclair that she eats slowly, staring out the window. We can go to school late and no one cares for once because today is her day.

She dances up the stairs. The smell of cabbage soup is heavy in the dark hallways. I wonder if she will remember this birthday, this little girl who still doesn't understand what day it is, what month it is. She only cares about summer coming, and singing late at night, about what her imaginary sisters and brothers are doing right about now.


daniel said…
Absolutely beautiful.
Annie said…
Happy Birthday, sweet little girl. She's a lucky girl to have a daddy to love her.

What a wonderful view from the window.
Rabbit blogger said…
daniel and annie - -thanks for your comments! it is indeed a wonderful view from the window, and every day it somehow seems different.
and I am sure your sweet gal was celebrated when she made her "star entrance" at school.
I think those are Polly Pockets your gal is playing with?
Rabbit blogger said…
Jojo - actually, E wears Oilily exclusively and has since she was born. i buy all of it, and the salespeople in NYC have seen her grow up in those crazy fashions... As for the kids at detskie sad? some think she looks cool, others make fun of her. ah, terrible cruel 5 year olds!
Annie said…
Ah! That's what my Lyddie wore! But usually second-hand. Very stylish young lady you'll have there...but that's precisely what I'd expect.
Rabbit blogger said…
like any true NYer, i never pay full price - between the Oilily outlet, sample sales and the rest i cleaned up (%90 off my last round). it wasn;t pretty - -had to knock shoulders to get some sad this brand has suffered, and is disappearing forever, or possibly coming back in about 2 years. the quality of the clothes is as great as the design. so are in children;swear...
Annie said…
She's a lucky girl; it is a blast to dress a daughter.

My Anastasia could be a model; she looks good in ANYTHING - too big, too small, boys', girls', whatever.....she makes the school uniform look fashionable.

(As I say, you can tell she's not my bio-child!)

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