My daughter sits across the table, playing a cutthroat game of Connect 4 with my boyfriend. The competition between them is (playfully) fierce, and she is adamant that I not give him hints. Doing so would somehow constitute cheating, despite the fact that I am not a player in this particular game.
She arranges and rearranges the game pieces, jokingly scolding me when I even so much as look like I am going to help him with his next move. She knows that I am perceptive, and that somehow, most likely because I am her mother, I am able to anticipate her next move.
I find myself watching her with fascination. Her interaction has an ease and comfort to it. She laughs. She tries to trick him, and he laughs. She manipulates the pieces, looks up as though she is hiding something, and in the next moment, she is deep in thought. She is complicated and multi-dimensional, and watching her (and her brothers) grow throughout her life has given me insight into people—and their layers—that I might not have otherwise gotten. I know that she has grown this way by piling experience on top of interaction on top of practice and more experience. It is not a simple thing to create such a complex individual.
Recently, she and I took an art class in fused glass. We chose brightly colored pieces of glass, piled them on top of each other in a way that looked appealing, and sent them off to the kiln. The pieces came back smooth and beautiful, the layers had melted together and become inextricably combined. This process is much like what has occurred in my children as the incidents and experiences, both good and bad, have combined to make them who they are. Each of my children is multi-layered in his or her own way. The ways in which they navigate the world, the relationships, the simple moments of every day life make me marvel at all of the things each of them has learned. Even when they were little, I would watch—from across the table or across the room—as they worked on a craft project, a game, homework, etc.
I watch my daughter now, and in my mind, I trace the lines of her face, comparing the lines and expressions to what they were a decade ago… a year ago… yesterday. I memorize these same lines and expressions for tomorrow. This face, this moment, is fleeting, and I want to hold it in my head, a snapshot for the future. This is today, right now, and I want to be present in this moment.