A sad – and yet, of course, happy – thing has happened and I must memorialize it.
I’m not quite sure how it happened. Nor am I certain that I fully believe it, but the calendar tells me that my youngest child, fondly known on this blog as Boo, is turning six years old this week. How can this be? How is it possible that she, born conveniently between snowstorms – one which kept us trapped at home for 3 days, less than a week after she was born – could be six? Somehow six sounds so much older than five. So much more grown up.
I have before me my old copy of A. A. Milne’s book, Now We Are Six. It describes Boo’s opinions quite well. For example:
When I was One, / I had just begun.
When I was Two, / I was nearly new.
When I was Three, / I was hardly Me.
When I was Four, / I was not much more.
When I was Five, / I was just alive.
But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever. / So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.
Or this one, titled Us Two
Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh, / There’s always Pooh and Me. / Whatever I do, he want to do, / “Where are you going today?” says Pooh: / “Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too. / Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he. / “Let’s go together,” says Pooh.
“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh. / “Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me. / We crossed the river and found a few – / “Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh. / “As soon as I saw their beaks I knew. / That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he. / “That’s what they are,” said Pooh.
“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh. / “That’s right,” said Pooh to Me. / “I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh, / And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo! / Silly old dragons!” – and off they flew. / “I wasn’t afraid, “said Pooh, said he, / “I’m never afraid with you.”
So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh, / There’s always Pooh and Me. / “What would I do?” I said to Pooh, / “If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True, / It isn’t much for One, but Two / can stick together, “ says Pooh, says he. / “That’s how it is, “ says Pooh.
Boo’s “Pooh” that sticks with her almost wherever she goes is called “Buddy”. Buddy is a crocheted baby blanket, bought for Boo by my Aunt Betsy. And Buddy is Boo’s best pal. Buddy is the background – or foreground – of almost every baby photo of Boo…and toddler photo…and pre-schooler photo…
We prepared Boo for kindergarten far in advance, by warning her that Buddy would not be allowed in school – at least, not out of her backpack. “He isn’t a student,” we said. “Though I know you wish he could sit beside you.”
“She,” Boo corrected us. “Buddy is a she.”
“Of course. I always forget.”
The first days of kindergarten last fall, Buddy hung out in the backpack. That first week was great fun. Adrenaline was high. Excitement huge. Fear very low.
The second week, the adrenaline was lower, the excitement tinged by homesickness, the fears rising fast. Buddy-in-the-backpack wasn’t enough.
So we sent a piece of yarn in Boo’s pocket. Yarn felt like Buddy; could be fingered and caressed throughout the day. The yarn was an “Assistant Buddy” – that’s what Boo called it, not “substitute” but “Assistant”.
But soon all the pants (or dresses) with pockets were dirty and what now? Where does the yarn go when there is no pocket to hold it?
Around the neck, of course.
This lasted a few weeks and then, one morning, “assistant Buddy” was forgotten in the excitement of morning preparations.
And Boo survived the day just fine.
Now, several months down the road of maturity, Boo – and Buddy – have reached another milestone.
Buddy is beginning to unravel.
The Sailboat King and I believe this is from God.
It was the final acceptance of our new rule that Buddy Must Stay in Bed All Day and Not be Dragged Around the House/into the Car/in the Backpack.
Of course, another Assistant Buddy has arisen.
Made of wool yarn and equally appealing in texture.
But far less grubby…for now at least.
And so our six year old progresses on her route to emancipation. One step at a time. And, as long as she’s got Buddy – or some approximation thereof – she can fight dragons with the best of them.