Dora knocks over my coffee cup, spraying coffee within inches of the work laptop upon which I am typing a Very Important Work Email. I’m annoyed, of course, but she’s seven and accidents happen and the computer is fine and nobody died so I take a yoga breath.
Just as I open my mouth to say Patient Parenting Words, Dora says, gravely: “Mom, it looks like we’ve both learned a lesson here.”
My eyebrows fly up my forehead, “Really? And what lesson did I learn?”
Dora, sensing the need to tread lightly, nods gently and speaks slowly, “I believe that you have learned: Be more careful where you put your coffee.”
My id snatches the mic from Patient Parent, “Dora, I am free to put my coffee where I wish. You need to not do cartwheels in the living room. Are we clear?”
Dora nods like a benevolent pastor, “I understand.”
“So, what did you learn?”
Dora bows her head and curtsies gently, like a 19th century servant, “I have learned that you are free. Just like Martin Luther King told his people, you are free.”
I could not love this kid any more than I do in this ridiculous moment. I want to kiss her entire face but it’s too late because she’s off again, charging outside like a runner off the mark to the place where she is free to cartwheel to her heart’s content.
“All the cartwheeling she’s doing,” I ask David later, “It’s normal, right?”
“Mastering a new skill is exciting, honey. She’s just excited. Go to bed.”
So far, Parenting is shaping up to be an eighteen-year reality show starring two complete amateurs forced to decide, on a weekly basis, whether something is a Serious Symptom or Funny Phase. No one tells you any of this at your wedding shower. You get diapers and blankets and seventeen Moby Wraps when all you really need is a copy of the DSM-VI, a Magic Eight Ball and the favor of the gods.