By COLLEEN LEDDY
Who shrunk my Crocs?
That’s what I thought upon seeing the tiny hot pink Crocs, a miniature version of my own, sitting at the base of the stairs the other day.
Ah, Caroline’s home.
Toys scattered everywhere. Little piles of little clothes, removed quickly from her body as pajamas replace them before she knows what hits her. Wet clothes hanging over the shower doors. The long box of Bruynzeel markers tucked among the framed photographs atop a bookshelf.
I love it all.
Even when it means doing laundry late on a Saturday night. I never do laundry late at night, not after David goes to bed anyway. I have had one too many bat encounters in the basement, where the washer and dryer are, to ever willingly go down there when I don’t have a fully functioning and awake knight in shining armor close by.
But Caroline and Rosie were leaving the next morning and I felt responsible for all those afore-mentioned wet clothes. It’s my fault for not removing every last interesting-to-an-18-month-old-curious-little-girl item in her path.
And pretty much everything is interesting to her, but especially the bookshelf in the corner of the living room which contains all the catchall cigar boxes and tins and pencil boxes full of crayons, embroidery thread, little pads of paper, stickers, old Scotch tape, beads, glue, ink stamps, colored pencils, regular pencils, and those afore-mentioned Bruynzeel markers.
That box of Color Express Mega-Point markers from Holland proved the most problematic for me. They are supposed to be washable, but they are as old as when Maddie was in elementary school I would guess. They’re like new, however, still vibrant and moist, and every time Caroline opened one she pulled the cap off across her stomach and dragged the thick marker tip along her shirt in the process, fat marker tip after fat marker tip meeting resistance with her shirt.
She’s at that stage of wanting to do it herself...and how can you squelch that independent streak? Inwardly groan and know that you’ll be scrubbing those marks out...and hanging those little wet clothes over the shower doors.
I love those markers...they have little elephants on them...and Caroline, with her love of elephants, seemed destined to find them...or maybe it’s our love of her response to “What does an elephant say?” She makes a close approximation of an elephant trumpeting and raises her hand up past her head as if it’s an elephant trunk.
Language and brain development unfolding...it’s such a gift to witness.
Tonal inflection is everything when Caroline speaks.
“No, no,” she’ll say in a soft concerned voice, the second “no” stretched to two syllables. She means “Oh, no!” and she says it whenever something isn’t quite right.
“The eensy weensy spider crawled up the water spot, down came the rain...” we sing, and she’s saying, “No, no,” with deep concern for the spider about to get washed out.
When a bright lightbulb catches her eye, she squints, points and says, “Ow!” Rosie and Taylor have drummed it into her that zoning out and staring at lightbulbs will hurt her eyes. She extrapolates that to the pre-flash of a camera...witness that on my facebook page in a photo taken by Andi Rorick.
Stars in the sky, the star design on her pants, metal star decorations on people’s houses sets her singing, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star...”
“Momma told the doctor and the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed,” she sings, and wags her pointer finger.
Maddie, also home for the weekend, can’t distinguish Caroline’s words or what she’s singing.
“What’s she saying?”
But she can totally appreciate the cuteness factor.
When Caroline declares “all done” in turn as she observes each of our empty plates at dinner, I thrill inside that she’s gone from declaring she’s “all done” with everything from eating to reading a book, to observing that other people are also “all done.”
She’s so aware and so curious and so smart, so why can’t she comprehend that she can’t splash in the giant dirty greasy puddle in the parking lot? I love how she throws her head back when things don’t go her way. She is just so sweet even when she breaks down...and so incredibly sharp!
My heart just sings that someday soon we will get to repeat this, that baby Ryland, home after 84 days in the hospital, will be singing about monkeys and spiders and stars—and a miniature version of David’s blue Crocs will be sitting at the base of the stairs.