watching her in motion is like watching two ostriches do cartwheels - all long legs and arms waving around of their own volition.
long long long feet rest on her flip flops, showing me all the growing that is still to come. three sizes, she grew this school year. three shoe sizes.
mosquito bites make a point-to-point map up and down her shins, meeting at the matching bandaids on both knees.
the denim miniskirt, so big she had to tie it on in the fall rides high - almost too high - this summer. A hand-me-down Hollister t-shirt from her cooler, older neighbor friends up the street has been chosen over all the sweet flowered blouses in her drawer.
the [finally] long hair meets her shoulders, the summer blonde streaks starting to shimmer throughout - it was carefully brushed this morning. i recognize the calculated nonchalance of hair tucked behind ears Just. So. instantly, i remember those painful early days of knowing you want to look a certain way, but having no idea how to make it happen.
her smooth cheeks slope over razor-like cheekbones she got from her dad. i watch the dark brown eyes follow everything that goes on around her, exactly as they did when she was six months old. even now, so serious, she can't help the way they sparkle with curiosity, with challenge, with imagination.
she folds those knobby knees underneath her as she sits, graceful when she's not thinking about it. she's completely unaware of my gaze - rare for her these days, with a 3rd grader's budding knowledge of the world's perceptions and judgements. she is wise after a tough year at school, learned some life lessons far more critical than the second grade curriculum of math facts and reading strategies.
my changeling - changing. in front of me. so much the same as the day she was born, and yet ever a new creature in our lives. inexorably, she moves all of us to the next phase: a hazy future involving growth spurts, hormones, algebra. a life away from - outside of - us.
she'll never know the moments i have taken to study her. to etch her into my heart, the exact way she looks today. i haven't had enough moments of absorption, of making sure I know her. just today, just this split second, i caught my girl in mid flight, even as she begins to soar so far beyond us.