Don’t Lose This, Little Girl

I had one of those profound, time standing still, totally in the moment moments today. It’s been a lazy day. My three-year-old daughter stayed home from preschool with a cold. I’m short on sleep, just trying to get caught up with some work and hoping to shower in the next few hours. My daughter had my phone, and she turned off the cartoons I was letting her watch, and she put on music. Somehow she put on a Saint-Saens cello concerto I had never heard.

At first she was just trying to make her baby brother laugh, making silly faces and twirling. But something in the music clicked with her and she just started really dancing. She realized I was watching. And she asked “do you love this song?” I nodded.

I did that thing that parents do. I tried to take a mental snapshot because I know these moments fly by. I took in her chubby arms and disheveled hair. I marveled at just how beautiful she was to me, snotty nose and all.

The music turned intense. She said “You might not like this part as much. I might make you cry.” And she was suddenly making bigger shapes. She was crouching and jumping and twirling even faster. She was clasping and unclasping her arms and making these contorted faces.

I did start crying a little. Because I don’t want her to lose this. This totally un-self-conscious way of being. This voice. This self-expression. I don’t ever want her checking to see if she looks fat or in some way imperfect. I don’t want her worrying what other people think. I don’t want her to ever be afraid to be intense or ugly. Because in that moment, to me, she was profoundly beautiful and free.

I didn’t need to try and remember every detail of this moment, because there’s no way I would forget it.