I’m in the kitchen, peeling carrots. I hear familiar footsteps, and turn to see her, politely standing next to me. She is holding a large piece of semi-sheer pink fabric, bought years ago from the fabric shop up the street from our house in London. We had bought many such remnants – a pound apiece – for Zachary to use for dress-up, and they have gotten their use over the years, even as they have been slowly chipped away for art projects, Valentine’s decorations, and – most recently – wedding dresses for Lucy.
Lilah holds up the fabric to me, grunting at me and gesticulating towards her head. “You want me to put it on your head?” I ask. She smiles and laughs, so I give it a shot, draping the fabric over her. She turns and walks away, fully shrouded from head to toe and trailing a two-foot pink train behind her.
Three minutes later she is back, holding the same pink cloth and holding it up to me. It has fallen off, and she cannot get it back over her head. I cover her once again, and she toddles away once more. We repeat this four more times during the course of my dinner preparations. I never do follow her to figure out what exactly she is doing, completely covered in pink fabric.
For the next several days, she will periodically show up next to me, holding that cloth, satisfied only when she is in the full burka. Sometimes, a girl just wants to be fancy, I guess.
We are on the floor reading books. It is bedtime, and there is one child on either side of me, plus a Benjamin in my lap. Lilah gets up and walks to my other side, where her oldest brother is sitting. Without so much as a sigh, Zachary gets up and moves to my other side, ceding his seat to her.
She displaces him twice more before her turn on my lap. It happens again the next night, too. “You don’t have to move for her, you know,” I tell Zach.
“I know,” he answers. “But I just like to make her happy.”
On mild winter days, Lilah has been wearing an olive green hand-me-down coat from her brothers. With spring peeking out the last couple of days, however, I pull out a yellow windbreaker someone else handed down. Delighted, Lilah pats her chest, indicating that she wants to wear this bright and flashy item to take her brother to school.
Later in the day, as we prepare to go for a walk, I think perhaps she should wear something heavier, so I bring out the olive green jacket. She screams at me, clearly feeling betrayed. Baffled, I grab for the yellow windbreaker.
“Is this what you want?” She smiles, laughs, and pats her chest.
I am not looking forward to this child’s teenaged years.