Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Little mirror

Listening to: Prince, Controversy

Fat March snowflakes today, wet and falling fast, making a hurried dash to earth still warm from yesterday's sun; embracing a new world rising, becoming one with an emerging inevitabilty. Wet snow announces the seasons in transition, still not spring and yet not quite winter, a rising and falling, new blades of crocuses bent under the weight impertinent March snow. It was this way a year ago today.

Don't you remember? Ah, but I do, not because of my superior powers of memory but because this day last year resides in my archives and so I have a snapshot of what it was like. Not only that but I can recall the moment I was inspired to write it, with vivid clarity, the quiet scuttle at breakfast, the soap suds on my forearms as I cleaned cereal bowls and looked out the window. Then, as now, I watched fat March snowflakes falling fast and felt the same sensation of transition, its feathered touch as it brushed by.

Another year, I know, but it's ironic how similar things seem. No dawdling breakfast this time, no time to linger when the car warms up for the trip to school. Also, she's more aware that she's turned five today, interested in this moment and not indifferent as she was a year ago. Still, she is just as diffident, timorous, her voice barely a whisper as if she speaks from a different dimension. Like the silence of the snowfall outside, she seems, in many ways, unchanged from what she was last year on this day.

She still has her fetish - Blue from "Blue's Clues" - still clinging tenaciously to threadbare dog doll she's adored as long as I can remember. Her sister, two years older, continues to carry Simba in all things and everywhere so I won't begrudge her continued connection to Blue. Indeed, while her sister borders on the obsessive when it comes to Simba and all things The Lion King, Marni manages to make her fealty to Blue conditional, a marriage of convenience. I suspect Blue's importance will slowly fade as the seasons assert themselves in the same way her personality asserts its own special quality, as more Marni emerges, differentiating the five year old her from the four year old her.

Yesterday, as we got ready for school, she claimed she was sick, "My tummy hurts," said in such a way that I was convinced she should stay home for the day. Her brother and sister were dropped at school and she came home with me, to curl up in a chair and watch "Blue's Clues", quiet and still, wrapped in a blanket as she watched the show. As soon as it was over she asked, "When are we going to the park?"

So, not everything is as it was, of course, and her duplicitous streak is something that has developed since last year. A few months back, after picking everyone up from school, she told her sister that her class took a field trip to McDonald's and in her Happy Meal was a Simba toy. Lilly went ballistic, threw a tantrum that went far beyond what her sister had told her. Especially since there was no field trip and no Simba toy. Marni had made the entire thing up simply to stick a needle into her sister.

In the triad of my children, Lilly is the Golden Child, the oldest who always does right, sets precedence, the voyager forging into the frontiers of development; Zeke is the baby, the charmer, the shining light where all eyes go, the urge to pick him up and squeeze is irresistable. In the middle is Marni, unassuming, silent, deep, a million miles away from everyone and everything - the most like me. Between the bookends of her ostentatious siblings is my reitteration, a subtle and complex enigma.

Marni's shoe hangs from my rear view mirror, size '0', a tiny reminder from when she entered my life. I can't look at her without seeing myself, moreso than either of her siblings. So it's fitting that her tiny shoe hangs from the mirror, my reflection is just as much hers as hers is mine.

Outside, the snow continues to fall with its heavy March insistence that winter still lingers. Let it snow, it won't stay. Tomorrow the sun will shine and spring will be one day closer, Marni will be one day older - but still like me. Will she stay that way, will she always be the child most my reflection, my little mirror? Will it be a cool, wet summer or a hot and dry? I have no way of knowing. For now, I enjoy watching the snow, allow this March evening to be what it is and know that whatever will happen, it will be far more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.


Shari said...

Your love for your children is one of the most beautiful things about you. It does my heart good to hear of this kind of love from a father. The world would be a much better place if more dads realized how needed their love is.

Happy belated birthday, Marni.

landismom said...

Happy (belated) birthday to your budding feminist!

trusty getto said...

Beautiful Post, Jim. Simply wonderful :)