Thursday morning before school we went to a coffee shop for breakfast. We sit upstairs there. My kids use the time to look at screens just like most of the adults do below. I use the time to look at them. I like seeing them take the big steps, turn the corner and scale the second set. I like seeing them hang their jackets on a chair back, climb up, have a conversation with each other about the wi-fi password. I love being their mom. I've never loved anything more.
I walk down to grab some water. A cute barista is toasting a marshmallow for each saucer of the kids' cocoa. Her excitement started this. The magic.
The small torch, a hot flame—a shift in some usually meaningless experience, opening the door between ordinary and magic. A toasted marshmallow.
A hot summer afternoon, myself as a kid, laying on the front lawn. Waiting for anything to happen. A car drives by blasting good music. Simple, but it’s something. A connection. I watch the car until it's out of site and then I go back to the quiet that makes me notice I'm alive, I do exist.
I watch my kids, sometimes they look up to see me looking at them and I smile. I smile so hard. They smile back. We hear my name.
The girls help me bring plates of toast and cocoa upstairs. Hannah gets the easy job. She picks up two plates of toast and cruises up the stairs.
The barista, Ada and I each carry a cocoa and I grab the other two plates.
I ascend the stairs two at a time and turn the corner. A college aged boy is holding back a laugh and I follow his gaze.
Hannah is wiping the floor with her jacket. It's not even her jacket, she borrowed it from Ada. The floor is now lightly dusted with cinnamon and sugar. There is a freshly buffed spot in the middle, butter.
She sees me and quickly hangs the jacket up on her chair back. She knows I’ve seen and now she waits. She stares at me and waits. I can't tell if she is nervous or proud.
She watches me, seeing if I put the clues of this mystery together. The toast in Ada’s place looks different from the rest.
You can use napkins for things like that, you know that right?
She smiles. I know.
I trade Ada's plate with mine. And I don't care that I'm eating floor toast because I love Hannah and I love that she would use a jacket to clean the floor. I love that she is seven. I love that she tried. I love that she is clever and silly and weird. I love being her mom even when it's hard because we don't always see eye to eye. She is growing and that means she doesn't tuck herself under my wing as much anymore. She is learning to fly. She is cleaning up after her mistakes, with a jacket that she borrowed from her sister and I would not change a thing about that. Ever.
The magic wasn't the barista's excitement, it wasn't the toasted marshmallow. It was Hannah. A child, in the wild. My child. My magic girl with her sweet smile and sparkling eyes wearing a cinnamon sugar jacket.