This child was born a mere thirty months behind her sister. We had, up to that moment, assumed that we were prepared for another child. Turns out "preparation" is a skittish term.
How does one adequately prepare for a tornado? It forms, touches down, sweeps along its random path, then instantly vanishes. Here one moment; gone the next. Only the path of destruction it leaves behind marks its presence.
Our youngest child is much like that tornado. She comes and goes quickly. Ample evidence of her whirlwind adventure remains, however. Not long ago, for instance, a pile of tiny scraps of paper would easily have pointed out where she had been moments before. Tiny paper dolls would be strewn across the school table, and her scissors would be curled up in a corner, whimpering softly.
As tornadoes go, of course, she is friendlier than most. She has never forced anyone to flee from their home, that we're aware of. She has a quick smile for everyone except strangers. Her favorite contact sport is tickling Daddy. She can still fall asleep listening to Mommy croon her nightly lullabyes. She still loves to pinch Mommy's upper arm when she snuggles - a remnant behavior left over from infancy.
She is no baby now. She has long since outgrown all vestiges of babyhood, excepting that tiniest of slurred R's that sound so endearing. She's growing fast, as is her hair. It falls all the way down her back when its wet, but springs back up an inch or two when it dries into its natural curl. She is Daddy's "iwannadoitcanihelp?" girl. She helps Daddy load the dishwasher, transfer the laundry, and take out the trash. No, she's not a baby anymore. But she will always be our baby.
We call her "the Rascal," among other things. She has, thanks to her gene pool, inherited a certain gleam in her eye that I have only seen in three other people. It is most pronounced in my brother, the rapier wit of the family. It is visible in my own baby sister, who now has three boys of her own. This is payback. We just haven't yet figured out for what. Finally, it reminds me of my own Dad. When that gleam appeared in Dad's eyes, the battle of dry wit was about to be engaged. Many's the time I blundered into Dad's path without noticing the gleam, only to find myself nursing a cracked rib from laughing so hard at something he'd just said. Dad was the original Rascal. My younger daughter is well into her padowan training at the Academy.
She turns six this fine Friday. Somewhere around 6:30 in the evening, while we dine with a certain mutated rodent at his abode, I will find myself remembering pacing outside the surgery, waiting to find out just what, exactly, the Lord would bless us with.
To one degree or another, I will probably continue wondering well into my declining years. It's a girl, yes. But what haven't we discovered about her yet?
I look forward to finding out.