This morning after a bath I’m wrapping a towel around me in my bedroom; my hair is up in a towel, and a green clay avocado mask on my face. I tuck the towel around me and look up to see the neighbor girl, up on Sophie’s bunkbed, her eyes wide and her lips in a perfect “o” shape – a delighted shock at seeing a grown woman naked, or surprise at my green visage, I can’t know. “I didn’t see you there, I.” I tell her as I pull my robe from my closet to wrap around the towel (it’s cold today).
This girl I. is a beauty. She has brown curly hair and hazel-green, guileless eyes; a surprisingly throaty chuckle that you hear often when she comes over. Her mother more or less allows her free reign to invite herself over to neighbors for which I’m grateful. The girl will stand in my doorway, seconds away from my acquiescence at which she will strip her scarf, shoes, hat, and coat off gleefully and join my children in their room. Today they are playing Barbie and “Package Versus Pets” – a game where Nels inserts himself into a large cardboard box, the girls pretend to receive it from the postman, and he emerges as some kind of wild animal they must guess at and then tame.
“That cocoa smells good,” I. smiles at me as the kids tumble into the kitchen, setting their little cups up complete with cloth napkin and spoon. I reflect again on my opinion that people should spend more time with children – on the children’s terms, not the grownups’ – because children are unspoiled in a way few adults are. They are so direct, so visceral in their expressions of pleasure, amazement, disbelief, and anger. My time with these wee ones only increases my desire to find my elemental Self; the woman who plain enjoys life, disavows discomfort and pain, and can ignore the future’s troubles for absolute presence in the moment.