On a visit to a favorite thrift store, Maria made a prized discovery... she calls it her Tasha Tudor dress. It is a homemade dress, many sizes too big, and yet a perfect fit for an eight year old girl in love with Prairie stories, farm days, her garden, and living by candlelight. It was hers for ten dollars, money she felt proud to have saved, and happy to spend.
Eight years old... all of the imagination and wishes of a young child, and a new sense of ownership and responsibility from knowing more, doing more, than when she was four or six. She can make believe, and she has strong convictions, happy ideals, for which she feels no hesitancy or embarrassment. When she feels pretty, she declares it. When her skirt can twirl, she twirls it. All of the delights in life are hers. She sees the opportunities, she fosters the play, and the joy in play.
She wanted the natural broom, "It's old fashioned. You can tell this is what someone would have made, with straw and wood, maybe. Not plastic. It looks right with this kind of dress."
Maria asked to have her hair pinned up. She's wearing her cowgirl boots. She's eager for summer, for gardening, and sleeping in the barn.
Last night she watched her brothers jumping over the tall fence, and leaping across the straw bales, and she was game for that kind of play, too. She's reading The Amazing Adventures of Doctor Dolittle. She's been researching gems and minerals, and creating a poster to define and illustrate different minerals, and their properties. She wants to learn to program her Adafruit computer, so she can write her own games. When she's nervous she scratches a tender spot at the base of her thumb... she tries to hide this. I hold her, and show her the finger I used to keep in my mouth when I was scared.
I want to remember all of it. Each of my children, at every age... treasured times, and memories. Lifetime memories. We hope. I want long, and healthy, safe, adventurous lives for everyone. Lives that are full of prized discoveries, trees to climb, foods to try, gardens to plant, medals to earn, languages to learn, places to go, people to love. I know we share this feeling of hope, this feeling of awe for young lives, for good people, for people who run into the smoke and confusion, and help. I want to protect, and nurture, to respect the ideals and spirit that eight year olds keep in their hearts, and carry through their busy days. I want their imaginative, eager, curious, idealistic spirits to last, forever.