She is Seven

My niece has been on my mind the last couple of days. I spoke to my mother on Tuesday and she told me a funny story. My sister sent my niece to school with $2 for lunch, a lunch that costs $1.50. When she got home in the afternoon, she told my sister that she owed the lunch lady 50 cents. After a bit of questioning the puzzle was solved–my niece had given the lunch lady $1; the woman asked if she had 50 cents; my niece said no; so she returned home with $1 in her pocket and an IOU of 50 cents. As my niece said, “She asked if I had 50 cents–she didn’t ask for my other dollar!”

She is seven. She is so big. She wrote me a Valentine’s letter (dated “2-14-12”), and she brought it when they all came up for my graduation. Here it is, word for sweet, misspelled word:

“Dear Vike,
I love you becues are… you are cind. You are frenly to. You are fun rily fun. You are sopr predy ang good. I like you becues you givi pepol thigs. You are Nis becues you love pepol. You make me laff. You are prtey ant Vike. You are Nis and sweet.
love your ant
K—”

She is seven and that writing is exactly phonetic, in her speech manner. Reading it aloud sounds just like her.

She is seven. I remember her at 5 months old, how bright her face became when she pushed herself up into a sitting position and maintained her balance for a full five seconds before tumbling over again. She had her first swimming pool experience, and all she wanted was to be held and walked around the pool as she stared at the bright sunshine bouncing off the ripples and waves.

She is seven. I remember her at 3 years old, her speech understandable, but still developing. “Iluhoo,” she would say, “Iluhoo much!” After a moment of discipline, her big, beautiful brown eyes would fill with tears and she would ask, “You mad at you me?” She opened a shoe for Christmas and was so excited, shouting “A boof!” When she finally got around to opening the other, matching shoe, she exclaimed in surprise, “Oh! Anotha’ boof!” Sigh. She was three.

She is seven. Seven feels so big and yet, she is still afraid of the dark and of disappointing. She can chat with me on the phone about her school days, and she knows that I am far away, and yet she just wants me to come for a quick visit. Seven. She makes me little things and wants to mail them. My mom can’t mail them–it would cost too much, so she stockpiles them and I get them in one big go. Valentines. St. Patrick’s Day. Memorial Day. Fourth of July. I get cards. I get letters. I get little plastic toys, treasures really. I get things covered in stickers because… well, because she is seven.

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