"Look, Lloyd. Grammy gave me chalk. It's red and orange and pink," she said over and over again excitedly. He listened patiently, while sniffing the pieces of chalk she held under his nose.
Yes, Lloyd is our cat. He is Claire's good friend.
I was grateful to Lloyd, the cat, for being so obliging. I was in awe of the magical world of my child.
In Claire's world, sticks of chalk might as well be nuggets of gold. Cats are confidants who will be sure to concur with you on just about anything you tell them. The world is surprising and new and everything is possible.
But wonder has a shadow side, too.
"Pink scary," Claire said, while we were at Grammy's house. She gestured to the bathroom door with one hand and clung to my pants with the other. Grammy's pink satin robe hung on the back of the door. Claire became fixated on it as unfamiliar and mysterious -- an object of terror.
I tried to coax her toward the door to look at it. I wanted her to believe that the robe was something mundane and ordinary. I wanted to talk her out of her fear.
"Look," I said. "It's like a coat. See the buttons."
Sometimes, reassurance does the trick. Not this time. For all Claire knew, the robe was going to leap off the hanger and swallow her whole.
I started thinking about how fear springs from the same place as wonder. I stopped trying to reassure her. I decided just to be with her.
Each night, Claire sees the moon and I swear she believes it has risen for her and her alone. With great joy, I go along with her on this flight of fancy. I realized that I need to be able to roll with her when she's suspicious of the everyday too.
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Photo Source: Capture Queen, Flickr. This photo has been adapted and does not suggest that the licenser endorses me, this blog or its use. License.