She asks to put on a crown, and I let her.
I'm surprised by this request, because playing princess is not something we do. It's not that I'm opposed to it, but she just cares more about coloring and puzzles and reading books.
She points to this crown that, for some reason, is sitting on the dresser in her bedroom. It's old and the metal is not shiny -- it's actually from a Halloween costume of mine, from easily 15 years ago.
I pick it up, and its heaviness is not expected. I put the little combs fused to its sides onto her already-existing crown of curls. She looks immediately in the mirror and smiles. She tells me that she'd like a picture taken, in her favorite spot in front of a door in the living room, which is again something she hasn't wanted to do lately. I realize later, after this picture is taken, that she has carefully and quickly chosen her princess doll to haphazardly hold in this photo.
Earlier that morning, she was in the bathroom with me, and she held my husband's childhood stuffed dog by one ear. I looked at her and silently took in this image, of her so immersed in childhood that she held this toy dog loosely, and without over-thinking it, yet not unkindly. This rumpled appearance of my daughter's still-sleep-filled eyes and her belly kind of sticking out from her pajamas, in the bathroom with me after waking up made my heart swell almost indescribably.
Childhood is fragile. It's here, and then -- in a rush -- it's gone. It's shiny and new, curious and inventive -- and then it's faded, and worn, and from long ago.
I remember, as a little girl myself, feeling torn between wanting desperately to be older, while also knowing that this meant the loss of something that was beyond my ability to truly grasp.
She walks around the house proudly in the crown.
Suddenly, she does a huge dive onto her bean bag chair, and the crown flies off.
Disappointingly, she gets up to find it, and I tell her that this crown isn't exactly meant for her more typical roughhousing, but that maybe she can wear it for a bit and then take it off to play. She looks at the crown, now in her hand, and gives it to me, shaking her head and saying "no." I breathe in a sigh, relieved that she's not yet ready for this crown, today.