Her little fingers push me away. It’s the end of the day and I’m trying to lure her away from her friends and her outdoor play to get home and get dinner on the table. “Sad! Sad!” she tells me as she flops limply in my arms, and I know, I know it’s sad to say goodbye to friends and sunshine and outside to get in a car, drive home, and be welcomed by the same old toys and two rushing, busy parents. Little fingers reluctantly hold my hand.
Her little fingers are so fast. I’m holding her hand and throwing one of our three bags into the front seat of the car, and as the door swings shut I see her little fingers still on the edge of the door. Too late to prevent the door from slamming, the only thing I can do is jerk her out of the way with my other hand, which is holding her other hand. She loses balance but does not fall; she is upset by my rudeness but her little fingers are safe, pulled out of harm’s way in the nick of time.
Her little fingers dance into action. She knows so many songs now, and so many actions. Her fingers are a twinkling star, a persistent spider, a whirling circle, a mimed banana. She laughs and dances and claps her hands. Little fingers press together still as she signs and asks for more.
Her little fingers drive me mad. “Hoep, Mama, hoep!” which is her way of saying “Help,” which means that she wants to help me as I cook dinner. She drags her stool to the counter and climbs up to my level, her little fingers grabbing everything within reach. Little fingers push a plate into the nearby sink. Little fingers spill a bowl of ingredients across the counter. Little fingers press themselves into the cookie dough, leaving a gaping hole, and are quickly thrust into a hungry mouth: “MMM!!” Must she get into EVERYTHING? Yes. She must. It is in her job description.
Her little fingers throw the ball. She is giddy with excitement at this new skill, running around in circles like a crazy person. I show her over and over again how to hold out her hands in preparation for me to throw it back. “Cutch it! Cutch it!” she shrieks in glee, and then all of a sudden she holds still just long enough and her little fingers miraculously catch the ball at the end of its short arc.
Her little fingers are wet. We’re in the shower together, sitting on the floor of the tub, both covered in soapy bubbles. She’s cleaning my back, so gently, and curiously testing the intriguing texture of the shave gel on my legs. “All clean! All clean Mama!” she announces cheerfully. “Good cleanin!”
Her little fingers are draped around my neck. It’s bedtime, the lights are out, and as soon as it’s dark her whole body collapses against me, snuggling in for prayers and lullabies. I draw out this moment as long as I dare, recapturing a sliver of her babyhood each night. Her arms wrap around me in a tired, contented hug, then tightly hold her bunny and her lamby as she lays down in her big girl bed.
And her little fingers relax at last.