Friday, April 25, 2008

A Polka Dot Tennis Skirt, A Cookie and A Horse

When Maria was about 3 weeks old, so tiny and new, Geoff called me from his perch in the kitchen, where he used to read his laptop: "What size is Maria?"

In my postpartum haze, his question was fuzzy. He never asked about sizes and measurements, unless we were in a lumberyard. At first I thought he was concerned about her petite height and her less than average weight. He worried about things like this, and I replied, "She's fine sweetheart. She's just a lot smaller than her brothers were."

"No." He answered, still talking to me through the walls. "I mean what size clothes does she wear. Would she be a 2?"

I was nursing Maria, stuck in that tired old chair we stuck between our bed and the crib, otherwise I would have gone to him, to see his face, to discern if what I was hearing was possible. Could Geoff actually be thinking about clothing, about fashion and sizes, and what people wear? It seemed improbable. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"Shopping." He does not elaborate, not willingly.
"Shopping for what?"
"Shopping for Maria." He does not elaborate, not willingly.
"What are you doing?" I try not to wake the dozing baby.

Geoff appears in our bedroom, and says, "I'm on Ebay trying to get Maria a tennis outfit. Is she a size 2?" He looks excited and agitated. The clock must be ticking on an auction. The bidding must be fast and furious. I cannot believe what I am hearing, the giddy look in his eyes. He has never bought a stitch of clothing, voluntarily, ever. Not for me or for William, not for Alex and not for Max. He buys his shorts 3 at a time every 4 years and his T-shirts are from conferences. He looks at me impatiently, "Would a 2 be big enough?"

"A size 2 or 2T is for toddlers. You need to look for sizes by month, like 3 months or 6 months." And he's already gone, back to the kitchen and the auction. For about half an hour he asked me about sizes and ages, and he ran stuff by me, about styles and colors. I was laughing. He was determined to get this child a tennis outfit before she was big enough to rollover or hold her head up. He was so preciously obsessed with his mission, that it was endearing and sweet and I will never forget the happy realization of his love for his daughter. It's not that there was any doubt, or that shopping is an indicator of love. It was his willingness to venture forth into uncharted territory, to envision the future, when she would be big enough to play tennis, to run and jump and catch. He saw all of the possibilities and he wanted to embrace them, to make way for them, and that is a very dear sign of love.

A week later the skirt arrived. A size 3T.

She wore it for the first time last summer, and it kept sliding down her slender waist. Our tennis pro. Our girl, healthy and happy, and loved.

This morning she went into our shared closet and shut the door, first turning to me saying, "Please, go away. I am getting dressed." Honestly, I can't say where she learned this. I don't have the sense to expect privacy, and never bother asking for it.

She came out in her apple shirt and tennis skirt, which still slips a bit.

She skinned her knee a few days ago. She walks with a limp and insists on a fresh band-aid every morning. Her friend Jack lives behind the suitcase. The suitcase is sometimes Jack's shop, and sometimes a horse.

Today the horse is taking to her Grandma's house, and she is bringing her "homework."

By the way, in yesterday's post, the photograph was of a very small section of a property Geoff had been hoping to buy. I was less certain about its potential, and I regret to say its too late anyway. Someone else made the first move. Geoff is very sad about the missed opportunity. As we look for a home we keep reminding each other that we must remain detached. We cannot let our emotions get the best of us, and yet... it's when we let our hearts decide, when we feel inspired... when we see all of the possibilities and embrace them, then we make way for good things to happen. So, perhaps we should allow ourselves to become attached and emotional, to be hopeful. We must venture forth with knowledge, and optimism and love.


melissa s. said...

what a sweet story. I don't think my husband would even know what a tennis skirt is, so hats off to yours! thanks for the nice comment on my blog and good luck with your house search!

village mama said...

Geoff, you're so so cool...don't forget to get her a pair of Stan Smith's :-)

amy smith said...

and maria is, well, stunning.