The One Hundred-and-Twenty-Ninth Chart

May 30, 2014

By Ekta R. Garg

Recently my kids have surprised me. Several times. But not because they’re little kids. Because they’re growing up and becoming big kids.

Observe: yesterday I sat in the family room with my evening cup of tea and my Kindle, taking a little break from cooking dinner. The kids sat in the breakfast area next to the family room at their princess table sharing a sketch book. I heard them bickering for a few minutes and wondered whether I should get involved. Then I heard this.

Five: “Di-Di, I want to draw too.”

Seven: “Well, how about I work on the story on this side and you work on the pictures on that side? Does that work?”

Pause. “Yes.”

“Okay.”

They surprised me with how easily they resolved their differences. But this comes at the tail end of a week of surprises.

During the long weekend we visited Chicago. One morning we discussed going to the Rainforest Café for lunch. Seven mentioned something about the animals that inhabit the “rainforest.”

“I’m not afraid,” Five said, “I know they’re pretend robots.”

She hesitated a moment, then added, “Well, the robots aren’t pretend. They’re real robots. But the animals are pretend.”

Surprise. That she could articulate the complexity of all of that—I took a good look at her then. Was she really only five years old?

Granted, she’s weeks away from turning six. But for now she’s five.

Earlier this week I brought the kids home from school, and I followed them upstairs to help them change out of their school clothes. I chatted with Seven and began a tickle fest with her, enjoying her giggles. Normally when I tickle the kids I help them down to the floor gently so I can continue tickling without any fear of falling.

But this time as I helped Seven down, I realized just how tall she is. I mean, this child comes up to my shoulder. She’s only seven years old, and I’m only 5’2”.

Makes me wonder how tall she’s going to get.

It also makes me wonder when she got as tall as she is now.

One day this week after the kids finished their homework and practicing their instruments, they asked to watch TV. Specifically, they wanted to watch something on Netflix. Because our Netflix account works through the Wi/fi in our Blu-ray player, sometimes it takes a couple of tries for the connection to work.

On this particular day the Blu-ray asked for confirmation—again—of the Wi/fi password.

“Why does it always do this?” Five complained.

Before I could say anything, her big sister jumped in.

“Don’t worry, this happens sometimes. We just have to do this a couple of times, and then it’ll work again. This used to happen a lot in the winter.”

Uh…really?

Next weekend the kids and I will travel to the east coast to visit my parents. The day after we arrive will be my mother’s birthday. Seven, her dad, and I chatted about what the kids could do for the surprise, and my husband raised his eyebrows conspiratorially.

“Don’t tell that one,” he said, jutting his head in the general direction where Five had just gone. “She can’t keep a secret.”

“Oh, no, she can’t,” Seven concurred. “She’ll just say, ‘Nani, guess what?’ and tell the whole surprise.”

“She’s only five,” I said. “It’s hard for five-year-olds to keep secrets.”

Seven just smiled and shook her head as if to say, “Kids.”

She can keep the secret. That surprises me. Did someone come in and teach her how to do that?

My children will be eight and six this summer. They’re no longer little kids. They’re becoming big kids.

I keep asking Five whether she can stay in kindergarten. She just grins impishly and tells me no. She has to grow up and go to first grade. And then second grade, third grade, fourth, fifth, sixth, all the way up to college.

Which is a decade away. Wait, what?

Surprise.

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