“I have a little shadow…” begins a well-known children’s poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Mothers of young children will very much get this post.
Emmy is my shadow, day and night. Without siblings to talk with during the school day, outside of preschool friends twice a week, I am the only conversational option. If you’ve never been shadowed by a preschooler you have missed quite a conversational experience. It goes something like this…
I’m trying to dash off a work email, and Emily at my elbow solemnly presents me with two plastic tea cups, taped together, one upside down on top of the other.
“What is it?” I ask.
“It’s a Wi-Fly.” (She makes it sound like Wi-Fi.)
“What is a Wi-Fly?” I ask.
“Yes, his name is Sophie. Do you like that name?” she asks, suddenly doubtful if Sophie is the right name for a male mouse.
“Well, Sophie is a girl’s name.”
“What do mice eat?” she asks with that startling change of direction at which preschoolers excel.
“It depends if they are indoor or outdoor mice,” I say, trying to remember the diet of mice. Nuts? No, that’s squirrels. I start typing gibberish on my email and give up.
“Emmy, I am a little busy right now, let’s talk in a few minutes, OK?”
“Watcha busy about?” (That’s the way she always phrases it.)
“Please send my photos to my email then,” she says in a very grown-up voice.
“Emmy, you don’t have an email, and what photos?”
She picks up several snapshots off my desk. “Here they are.”
I take them from her, and she sits on the floor next to me. As I attempt to finish the business email, she begins making various bird sounds, trilling and chirping and clucking and cooing. Great for concentration.
“Mama, I’d like a really big fish tank for my birthday. I could put it by my bed maybe? I could keep baby dolphins and whales in there.”
“That’s not going to work, Em. Fish tanks are a lot of work, and I have no idea where baby dolphins and whales can be bought. I imagine they’re pretty expensive.”
“What do dolphins eat?”
“What is plankton?”
“Small creatures in the sea,” I hazard.
“No, definitely not like chickens.” I’m picturing a chicken of the sea with a life-jacket on, flailing away.
And so it goes, from the time her feet hit the floor until her (early) bedtime, a constant flow of questions and ideas, some of which are downright astonishing. This phase of childhood is fun, but it is frankly, exhausting.
She informed me this morning that she is running a drive-through pet store. I sat out on the deck in the sun today, and she ended up selling me a rabbit, a mouse, a large dog and a Panda out the window of her playhouse. If you’re in the market for an exotic pet, I hear Emmy’s got some Llamas on sale cheap this week! Stop by before they’re all gone.