I found a set of fairy wings on the kitchen floor a few days ago, and when I picked them up–because a corner of one of the wings had been a few inches under the stove–they dragged a bunch of other stuff out, too.
A huge dust bunny, of course. That’s a given in our house. (No shame.) Also some shriveled Cheerios, and we haven’t bought Cheerios in some time. And then the top half of an acorn. Just the little cap.
See, last fall, a friend of mine had dried and shellacked dozens of acorns to serve as autumnal decoration at our shared poetry reading, and afterward she asked you if you wanted them to play with. You, of course, did. Some of them were spraypainted gold.
You love small things.
You have little treasure boxes and assorted bags where you keep your special items. You’ve kept those little acorns for many months now, though occasionally I find one crunching under my feet in the shaggy rug in the living room.
Acorns are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Anything small can make the cut, as far as what you ask to keep to play with. Clips or rubberbands. Coins of assorted countries’ currency. Little tiny snips of paper you cut out around words you’ve written with hearts. Rocks. Beads. If we let you, you try to sneak the plastic ring from the top of milk jugs.
And that’s not to mention all the small plastic cartoon figurines from myriad television shows that we’ve inherited from friends. So many small things. Everywhere. Underfoot. Under furniture. Hidden amongst the plastic dinnerware of your play kitchen. Piled in the bathtub of your dollhouse.
You love small things.
Of course, now that dandelions are showing up in the yard, you’re pretty obsessed with them, too. You pick them and want to put them in vases and make me smell them, you count them, you get excited when we walk by neighbors’ yards that are covered densely dotted with yellow. You think those people are really lucky to have such a pretty yard.
We’ve also got little purple and white flowers blooming on weeds throughout our yard. Because that’s the kind of yard we have. It’s mostly groundcover, not grass. These tiny flowers suit you perfectly.
A few weeks ago, the preschooler’s show-and-tell assignment was to bring something that could fit in your pocket. Your pockets are pretty small. You selected a plastic Coca-Cola bottle cap with the tiniest of snail shells tucked inside of it. I had to put them into a plastic bag so they wouldn’t get lost in your backpack.
You’d found the snail shell in the sand under the deck, sand that I repeatedly ask you not to play with but you can’t resist scooping up and “watering” out of your drink cup. You asked if you could bring the shell inside, and I agreed, once I was pretty sure there was nothing living in it.
And so it went to school with you for show and tell.
This tiny wonder of a snail shell.
I love your love of the tiny.
I love your wonder.
It frustrates me too, of course. I’m not going to lie.
It’s one thing to be asked to stop and smell the roses but dandelions? I don’t always want to smell them, especially after you’ve been twisting and yanking on the onion grass in our yard and all I can smell is that garlicky yuck I know you’re smearing on your pants as you come jogging over to me.
I don’t want to slow down to watch the bugs crawling on the deck, the ants dismantling an old goldfish cracker, the “spider” which is probably some other random insect but the toddler calls everything “spider.”
I don’t always feel like pausing to listen to a noise that is so quiet and distant it really doesn’t matter to me. But it matters to you. And you want to have a conversation about what it might be.
Yes, I can be a stereotypical grown-up who loses my patience with these interruptions. I’ll admit it.
But some days: some days I do pause, take notice, listen.
Some days I squat beside you, invite you up onto my wooden swing, garlicky hands and all.
Sometimes I encourage you to try to feed the robin in our yard who I know will always be just out of reach.
Sometimes I come over and inspect that hole by the picnic table and chat with you about chipmunks and snakes and why you may not poke your stick down there.
Some days I count out your “monies” with you, whether they are US currency or not.
Some days I agree to go hunting for the Katerina Kitty Kat figurine, or O the Owl, or the particular Daniel Tiger you’re looking for. (For some reason you prefer the one with the white T-shirt, rather than the red T-shirt or the red sweater. Why in the world do they make so many variations?) But I help you look under the couch cushions.
Some days, I wonder at the tiny. Because you remind me to.
And most days, at some point, I wonder at your wonder.
But every day, girls, every day:
I wonder at you.