Three years and five months old. She wakes up in the morning and comes to me on the living room sofa where I’m reading my book, cuddles up, and wishes me a good morning. “I need to tell you something”, she says. Ok, what is it? “I dreamed of a Tooth Fairy who came and turned me into a baby hippopotamus and I asked her, pretty please, turn me back into a little girl and she was nice and wiggled her magic wand and made me a human again”. I start laughing and tell her she is so blessed to have such wonderful dreams! She takes my book and flips through it and asks me where the pictures are. I explain this one is for grown-ups and has stories that leave up to one’s imagination what the characters look like and everything else. Then she volunteers to draw the pictures for me, for she is the “bestest artist ever”. I tell her “bestest” is not a word, but I agree she is the best artist ever, because she has an amazing imagination and the skills to express it on everything she touches. I barely convince her not to write on my book when she wants to write a better story than the one I read. Out of the blue, she asks me what “awesome” means. I say it is something out of the ordinary in a good way, like her. “Mommy, are you awesome?” “Only when I know how to answer your questions!” “Tell me what moderate means, please”. I get up, play the Pinocchio game raising my right hand and saying: this is big. I raise my left hand and mark the “small” concept. I push my head in the middle and victoriously claim: this is moderate! S. smiles mischievously and asks me, “now show me where humongous is”. I lift my right leg up as far away from my right hand as I can and tell her that humongous is where my big toe nail is now. “Mommy, you are funny; funny looking!” she says, laughing.
I am telling her a gazillion of goodnight stories, some well known, most of them spontaneously invented. She points to different things around the house and asks me to create adventures about lamps that grow out of the ground like flowers, a superhero who can lift the roof so she can see the stars laying on the bed, about Mingo (Flamingo), T-rex, and Grasshopper, three hand-puppets among the thousands she has, but these three being her favorites…however, one gets the picture about our bed time.
Tonight she wants a story about a green grape and a blue berry (pronounced with a pause in between) that can turn into a green berry if you peel it off. She has a passion about “turning into” something else; now she’s a dinosaurs who roars, the next minutes she turns into the superhero who fights the dragon and saves the princess, then the Knight Fairy (invented by her) who rides the horsy, only to turn into a magic unicorn who is thirsty and comes to his mommy for a glass of water, and so forth. I am still wearing a Barbie band-aid on my right shoulder as a spell and still waiting for the Good Witch to come and take it off so I can turn back into a mommy. Now I am officially a pumpkin. If I take it off when I’ll go to sleep and she would not find the band-aid tomorrow in the same exact place, who knows what would she turn me into?
So I start the story, not knowing what I am going to say in the next sentence, but all is well, and she likes to hear about a purple fruit basket sitting on the table being sad and lonely and about the yellow flower vase asking him what’s wrong. The basket said: I want to be full of fruits, to have someone to talk, take care of, and be friends with! Nobody pays attention to me in this house, everybody store their fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator in now days! Then the pretty yellow vase tells him not to worry, she knows a secret how to make a dream come true. Tell me, tell me, implores the basket. Well, smiles the vase, when you go to sleep tonight, look out of the window and find the brightest star. Talk to her about your dream, then go to sleep, and wait for a big surprise in the morning. Ok, so the basket becomes hopeful again, thanks to the vase, and does exactly as instructed. The basket wakes up next morning and cannot open his eyes, because of something was blocking his eyelids! He wants to yell for help, but cannot open his mouth large enough to say the words. The vase only hears a mumbling (and I mumble myself at this point, followed by S. who completely forgot that we are telling stories so we can go nighty-night, sleepy-sleepy, not in the least to get excited and start jumping on the bed for the fifth zillion time today!) and doesn’t know what to do! Finally, the basket opens his eyes and is able to talk again. He is in awe when he discovers all the colorful and delicious fruits he is hosting in his arms – big round and oval shinny green grapes smelling so yummy and dark firm blueberries feeling at home in this eager for friends basket. Some of them got into his eyes and mouth and that’s why he wasn’t able to open either one of them.
At this point, S. is asking me where is the peeled blue berry, have I forgotten about the peeled blueberry? Is it ok, mommy, if I go to the purple basket and ask him to let me peel some blueberries so he can see how do they look like inside? Mommy, are we green under the skin too? Mommy, are you sleeping? Mommy, please don’t go to sleep yet, you have to finish the story. I ask her to find the end of the story by herself, the way she thinks it should end. “But I don’t know how”, she says. Ok, how about we talk to the brightest star and go to sleep and we will have the end of the story when we wake up tomorrow morning? But mommy, why can’t the brightest star tell us the end of the story now? Because she is busy playing the counting game. But mommy, I want to play the counting game too. Ok, count with me then: one sheep…one sheep, two sheep…two sheep…I am yawning when I get to ten and change into “ten cows”. That was a wrong move from my part. S. starts laughing and moo-moo-ing, and says “ten monkeys”. I say “eleven noses”, she says “eleven helicopters”, seventeen “hambaders (hamburghers)”, “thirty-third januareries (actually, January 23rd), and on and on with this marathon until we get to the number 88 laughing and mocking and wrestling, not at all ready for sleep. I mumble “eighty-eight caterpillars”, no answer. I whisper “eighty-eight fighter-fighter trucks (that’s how she calls the fire-fighters trucks)”, nothing. I am getting ready to celebrate she is finally asleep, when she turns around, pushes her little cute nose under my chin, hugs me fiercely, grabs a curl of my hair, and tells me tender: “Mommy, you forgot how to count. It’s eighty-nine, ten, eleven fighter-fighters”.
Good night, magic childhood, wherever you are.