11 and 11/12
“What is this?” I ask, plucking a shred of neon paper from the carpet in her bedroom.
She shrugs. She must have limber shoulders from all that shrugging, I think to myself.
“Wash your plate when you’re done with your dinner, please.” I deliver my request in a measured tone.
Later, I find that the plate has been washed but not the fork. I didn’t mention the fork, after all.
I gently inquire about some missing assignments for math and science classes.
In response, the eyes roll back so far that I sometimes wonder just how far they can go.
“I think you need a shower,” I suggest, delicately at first and then less delicately.
She agrees, but requires me to turn on the water and check the temperature for her.
For the next hour, she sings Adele songs into the showerhead and drains the city’s water reserves.
Adolescence, it seems, has replaced my Dora-watching cherub with a determined yet tentative almost-twelve-year-old.
Her face, framed by wild cascades of curls, is both the baby I cradled and the woman I will someday know.
She spends more and more time away from me now, at sleepovers and choir tours and such.
I give her some money and she’s off, never bringing me any change when she comes back.
Her burgeoning independence glistens like a newborn calf, leaving us both unsure of its boundaries.
The days are a blur of boys and classes, clubs and performances, friends that come and go.
Mascara and text messages. Tears shed over slights large and small. Jeans that cannot be worn if I picked them out.
But at night, I still must close her closet doors fully before she can go to sleep
The monster cannot open doors, you see.
I lean down to kiss her good-night and she throws her arms around my neck.
“I love you,Goober” I say.
“I love you more,” she responds.