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Ladies Night

Tonight my husband had dinner plans with friends, so I went out for a "ladies night" with my daughter. We went to this new Italian place that was two blocks away from our house where I ordered a glass of wine and she made rubber band bracelets. We shared some pasta and watched the streets of Brooklyn through our window. It was nice.

At one point I looked across the table at my dinner companion and smiled. She looked tired. Last night was my birthday and Maya spent it at my parents house, a place that is like a second home to her, where she happily watches more tv, eats more sweets, and stays up later than she is allowed to at home. Which is all fine. That is what grandparents are for.

Also, she looked kind of dirty. We went to the playground this morning and it did not occur to me to change her clothes or brush her hair before dinner.  Summer vacation and all.

But suddenly, in that moment, I saw what the other patrons of the restaurant probably saw, those who do not have six year olds, or perhaps the ones who left theirs home with the babysitter so they could have an "adult" dinner. A little girl with wild hair and tomato sauce on her face. Her dress was too big in a way that every few minutes on strap would fall down her arm leaving her torso half naked. And despite my daughter possessing two perfectly functioning opposable thumbs that can hold a fork like a pro, she was eating her pasta with her fingers. And singing. To herself. Like, well, like a crazy person.

But that's not what I saw.

I saw hair that was wind blown and tangled from a joyful early afternoon sprinkler romp. I saw eyes that had the glazed over look of one who is a few hours short on sleep, but knows it was well worth it.  I saw a child who liked her pasta so much that she did not have the patience to bother with such pedestrian things as utensils and napkins. I saw a little girl who was so wrapped up in her own imaginary game of rubber band people and magical songs that she did not give a crap who heard her. (For what it was worth, it was only me, she was singing very quietly.)

I saw all this, and I sipped my wine, and ate my fettuccine and loved her so fiercely I thought my heart might explode right out of my chest.

Which, incidentally, would make an even bigger mess than the meat sauce.
I''m just saying.

She also spoke politely to the waitress when the woman asked her what she was making with all those rubber bands. She apologized when she knocked an entire glass of water across the table and into my lap. She said goodbye when we left and carried the little plastic box with her leftover pasta all the way to our kitchen counter.

She does a million other things too, every day, things that are brave and kind and smart and silly, and just totally,  totally awesome, things that are so much more important than the tomato sauce on her face and the knots in her hair.

Still, when we got home I made her take a bath.
Cause awesome or not, she is looking kind of dirty.

Despite how this photo might look, she is not actually one of the orphans from Annie.


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