She's a teense on stilts. Her legs parade around as a 5T, but her waist is holding steady at a 2. You might say, she's only growing up. But, in spite of what her waist might lead you to believe, part of her is ever-expanding. This one has a brain that just won't quit.
Her creativity: it's stretching. Her stories may not be long. They may not follow a pattern. They might not make much sense. But, they are always, always entertaining. A short sampling:
"That was the story of the beautiful butterfly who had lots of kids, but one died. But, she had many more and then the one came back to life. Created by Audrey Paige. She is five."
(Describing a Lego creation) "It's a bird: a toucan who lives in the jungle. In Alaska!"
She might not always get the words right:
(Singing) "I rebeat (repeat) the sounding joy."
(Attempting to "rebeat" her father's singing) "G.I. Joe, great American in the road!" (For the record, Jason's version ended with "hero".)
She hasn't learned the nuance of every word:
"Can we have a movie night?" she asked.
"I don't know. I'm going to have to run out," I said.
"Run out of what?"
Other words, she knows all too well:
"You can play with your princesses during quiet time," I said.
"You can't call it 'princesses' when there's only one," she corrected.
She's grown to see the world through a unique lens:
"It's our last day for Peter Pan," she said. "We read two chapters on football day."
"On football day?"
"Yeah. Dad watched football all day after church."
Audrey recognized a neighbor, but couldn't remember her name. I told her the girl's name. Audrey asked how I knew. "I know her mom," I said.
"Is her mom your friend?"
"Well, she just moved here, but we're becoming friends."
"Is she becoming your best friend?" she asked.
"I don't think my best friend, but a friend."
"You never know what can happen, Mom!" she said, running outside to play with her brothers.
One Friday, Audrey asked when Emmy (our dog) will die. She then described her burial plans for our sweet Em, which included putting the dog in a box and surrounding her with "things", before decorating the box and writing Emmy's name on it so we'd know it was her. (This leads me to wonder how many things she plans to bury in our backyard.)
Audrey made huge strides in her swimming abilities this summer with the help of her teacher, Valerie. "It's some kids' worse thing when she lets go of them to have them try by themselves," she said after a lesson. "It's my happiest thing."
Jason holds the title of family jokester and magician. Audrey is still trying to figure out how he was able to make a (murphy) bed appear and disappear while on vacation a couple years ago. One afternoon, I handed her a duck-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Failing to see the avian cookie cutter hiding on the counter, she asked me how I had made it. "Mama magic," I said. Later, upon finding the cookie cutter, she asked if I had "joked" her.
"Mom, I didn't know you joke sometimes. You decided to try it today?"
Jason and Audrey seem to be developing a comedy routine all their own:
Jason brought a set of chopsticks home from Japan for each member of our family. He took them out of the bag, spread them across the center of the table and asked, "What are these for?"
"Knitting," said Audrey.
Some typical Audrey/Jason dinner banter:
"Audrey, you're doing such a good job reading, next year you'll be reading Harry Potter," Jason said.
"What are you meaning?" she asked.
"Audrey, is the answer A, B, C, or D?"
"No, C. The answer is always C."
"What is the riddle?"
"What did angels wear?" Jason asked.
"White shirts and skirts," said Audrey.
"Were there boy angels?"
"Well, Gabriel was a boy, so I imagine there are boy angels, Daddy."
One day, I read Audrey a library book about an octopus who searches for the perfect crag in a rock to hide and lay her eggs. The book accurately portrayed the life of a mother octopus, who dies shortly after her eggs hatch. "I know another whose lives are like octopuses," she told her father at dinner. "We are."
"That's right," he agreed. "You guys hatched and mama's life was over," he laughed.
One afternoon, Jason brought up the idea of cleaning out the garage while the kids rode bikes in the driveway and cul de sac. "We could kill two birds with one stone," he said.
"I want to kill a bird," said Audrey.
Audrey crawled into our bed early one morning. When Jason roused himself for the day, he found Audrey between us. "I thought you were Nate," he said. "I thought you were bigger than that."
"Surprise!" she said.
I sneezed. Jason said, in a sing-song way, "God bless you!"
Audrey responded, "God messed you up!"
One afternoon, Jason prepared to go till the garden (having not done much physical activity in the months prior). "I hope I don't have a heart attack," he joked on his way out.
"What's a heart attack?" Audrey asked.
Jason explained how the heart works and what happens when someone experiences a heart attack. He then explained that he was joking and would be fine. Then, he walked out the door. "There's something crazy about him," Audrey said, heading to the closet and grabbing her shoes. "I better go check on him."
Of course, if the comedy routine falls through with her father, Nathan's becoming quite a good stand-in:
Audrey: (as Nate refused to help her pick up) You're mean.
Nathan: No, I Nate.
Audrey: You're Nate, but you're being mean.
Audrey: You're a mammal.
Nathan: No, I Nate.
Audrey: You are called Nate. Mom is a mammal and we were born from her, so we are mammals.
Nathan: No. I Nate.
One night at dinner, the kids wanted yogurt. I told them they needed to eat the rest of their meal first. Nate motioned to the plate he was diligently emptying forkful by forkful, and reiterated my rule.
"Nate is very sensible," Audrey said.
"Yeah, and I have all my hair," he said.
Close to bedtime one night, I asked Audrey to run outside to find a stray container. Nathan ran to the back door. "I'll get it!"
Audrey tore after him. "No, I'll get it!"
A few minutes later, I heard her yell again. "I win!"
"I lose!" Nate yelled, just as loud and proud. (Ironically, no one brought in the container.)
Audrey asked if she could ride the penny-a-ride horse at Meijer, following a successful shopping spree. I agreed. She mounted the plastic steed, put her penny in the slot, and waited. The horse sputtered, but never left the gate.
"I'll help!" Nate said. He walked to the front of the horse and gave the animal's front hooves a good yank. It sprang to life, suddenly moving up and down.
"Impressive!" Audrey yelled from her perch atop the saddle.
Of course, what's a growing five (six, now that I'm typing this all out)-year-old without a growing attitude?
An original song:
"I've always been a little bit right. Yes, I've always been a little right."
Another original song:
"Okay, okay, okay, okay, let's go because it's a nice day (repeat).
Okay, okay, just leave the dishes in the sink and come on over.
Okay, okay, okay, okay, leave the dishes in the sink until it gets deep.
Just jump on the stage. Just jump on the stage.
Come on over.
(Nathan followed her instructions and jumped on the stage. He was promptly pushed off.)
One night, after patiently waiting for me to finish a story, Audrey glanced over and said, "Now can you zip your mouth, please, so I can tell you something?"
One afternoon as Audrey was hanging "decorations" through the house for a make-believe party, she asked, "Will friends come for Nathan's birthday?"
I explained that since Nate was little, we'd probably just celebrate as a family. "I want people to come admire it," she said. "Did friends come admire me after I was born?"
(Audrey got temporary tattoos at a pirate-themed birthday party.
She asked if she could put one on. I agreed, as long as she didn't put it on
her face. She listened. She came out of the bathroom with that skull and
crossbones slapped perfectly-centered across her windpipe.)
One afternoon, after pulling off a feat of kindergarten-genius in front of Nathan, Audrey threw her hands up and said, "Yes, I know. I'm a rocket star!"
And she is. She's our "rocket" star, ready to launch whether we're ready or not. She is knows-no-bounds energy, with a hunger for discovery. She is effervescent, and moving at the speed of light. We are just the launch pad, left to watch, praying that she stays in orbit.
I would not mind stalling the journey, collecting the moments to lock them - frozen - in an Audrey-at-five time capsule. But five does not stand still:
"Prince Eric is my favorite prince," she said after watching The Little Mermaid.
"Why?" I asked.
"I like the look of him."
"You have a make-up lesson today," I told her one evening after we had just gotten out of the car from a day-long visit with relatives from out-of-town. "Do you want to go?"
Audrey's eyes widened. "Yes! What am I going to learn?"
"You'll probably work on the same things you've been doing: bobbing up an down, backstroke, scissor kicks, frog kicks."
Suddenly, she seemed a little crest-fallen as she realized that I was talking about a make-up swim lesson and not a tutorial on mascara application.
And, just like that, five became six.
No, this is one launch for which we're completely unprepared. But it's coming, ready or not. After all, she's only growing up.