Six almost seven is riding her bike down the alley behind our house, weaving around melting snow piles, but straight through the puddles that splash mud up from her boots to her neck. Six is the Harry Potter scar on her forehead, carefully drawn on with my lip liner. Six is jeans that are suddenly too short, tucked into hand-me-down boots. Six would rather wear an old shirt that belonged to her brother than anything new, especially if the new thing is too pretty. Six is chasing her friend down the street, braids bouncing, yelling to see if she wants to build Legos or play with her American Girl doll. Six would like to build a fort: in the snow or in the basement or in her room. Six wants to hide because she knows she’ll be found.
Six still climbs in your lap to watch TV and cries if you snap at her for not being pokey about getting her school clothes on. Six goes to bed with 20 stuffed animals in her bed and wonders why she can’t have 30. Six is wiggly teeth and mystery scratches and bruises from playing hard and not caring yet if she falls. Six loves her teacher and her brothers and her favorite cousins. Six will cheerfully tell you that you are number five on her list of favorite people, unbothered by the fact that you gave birth to her.
Six still believes: in Santa, in the tooth fairy, in the idea that most people are nice and good.