Or like the time it dawned on her that not every furry animal is a cat. Some of them are actually dogs, as she pointed to our cat-sized dog and announced "Dah!" She even knows our pets by their name now. We armed her with treats and asked her to "give it to Kayli" and she walked over to our orange tabby with a hand aiming at our cat's face, and when prompted to "throw it" (instead of "drop it" since she can "throw the ball"), she gingerly dropped the treat by Kayli and, my favorite part, in baby talk, urged the cat to enjoy it. Or so it seemed. She did the same with Macavity the grey cat and Kirby the once-cat-now-dog.
We were amazed but at the same time, with her ability to understand simple words and instructions ("Bring me your socks/shoes/toy", "Give this to nana", etc.) I was struck by an epiphany. She’s a little helper in the making! Pick up your toys. Make me a sandwich. Iron my shirt. The possibilities are endless.
And who can forget her first experience with snow? (It's rhetorical since I was the only one there with her). A stark contrast to the white all around us on this typical Chicago winter day was this little girl bundled up in bubble gum pink (the respectable red snowsuit was out of stock). It was snowing heavily and when we got outside, she planted her feet on the ground and refused to move, looking up, down and all around her at the snow that was falling and on the ground. When I left her side to take some “first snow pictures”, she started to cry, a rare display of fear on her cherubic face. I picked up some fresh snow and she touched it, thrilled by the sensation of icy cold softness. And when I had her taste some, she didn’t hesitate to shove her face with a fistful of snow, her tongue completely mystified by the novel texture and temperature. After this, whenever I would mention snow to her, she would look outside for the falling snack.
Naturally, Little Miss’ firsts are also windows to my own memories. I was 19 when I first experienced snow. It was my first year here in the States, and I remember being in awe after years of watching it on TV, and having spent much of my time walking around campus in the winter, instead of detesting the cold (that came later), I developed a fondness for the way fresh snow felt under my feet. I loved that in the still of the night, I could hear the crunching sound as it found the nooks and crannies of the threads on my boots. Of course, years of blustery cold winters jaded my appreciation for it, but Little Miss had awakened my senses and unearthed my love affair with the beauty and serenity of a city blanketed in snow, the daylight quality of the night when everything hibernates under a layer of brilliant white and of course, the delicious sensation under my feet.
We have a long road of discoveries ahead of us, both for her and for me, from the biggest, like starting kindergarten, to the smallest, like something as simple as realizing the utility of pockets! I showed Little Miss where to store her goldfish crackers during snack time a week ago and three days later, when asked where her pockets were, she surprised me by shoving her hands in them, eyes sparkling with mischief as she flashed her signature Little Miss smile. What didn’t surprise me was as I was folding laundry two nights ago, I found a disconcerting yellow paste caked in the pockets of her sweater—cracker remnants! I had to laugh.
Like I said, it’s the little things.