Morning, I am on the mattress in the girls’ bedroom waiting. Hannah wakes up slowly blinking, sleepy looking around. Lies back down quietly for a while.

How is it my Punklin wakes up? I remember it as an instant burst of awareness but am here to be sure.

It is not noisy but it is suddenly all over the room, eyes wide-open and sitting straight up; a grin. Jane, she says. Grinning. I am, so would you.


Family was gathered, no special occasion. Sarah in the kitchen with my other sisters and the rest of us are in the living room with her kids. Hannah is showing off her land legs – brand new shoes and strutting puffed out chest. Oh the glory. Next thing we know she will be chasing her older sister into the bathroom for kicks.

In through the front door (open, for we are not all here yet) comes stumbling Frank. Frank my brother’s old friend, Frank the one who never finished high school, Frank whom my mother has never met, Frank who is tolerated with a minimum of civility. Frank who is staggering drunk at 6 p.m. on a school night. Into the front hallway goes my brother and following go Hannah and the Punklin. Following comes me, little mother shepherdess.

Nothing loud, it is mainly Get out of here, Man and Go Away, my mom is here. Yeah Yeah Yeah he mumbles. Hannah heft on my hip and our little diplomat’s sticky hand in mine, my part in this is Oh gosh. Like we need this.

The Punklin, squirming out of my grasp, takes care of it simply - clear, distinct.

Who is that guy?
Would you believe, he looks down at her and leaves.


What would it be if this child were a stranger. How would she fit into my class. Are her verbal skills about right? Can she hold a crayon? Pencil? Scissors? Is she a hitter? A pincher? A biter?

Ten bucks says she would be the first on my list of sanctioned holy favorites.


Two years old is not as young as you would think. She hears everything. For example here is me: I’m so STCHEW-PID, I forgot to call that guy back! And here is her: You’re stupid? Forgot to call that guy back? Yes honey, I made a mistake. You’re stupid? She keeps checking, maybe unsure how forgetfulness translates into stupidity but more likely thrilled at the sound of a naughty word.


Get a load of this: She sent me out of the bathroom so she could have privacy. Okay, young lady, we taught you about personal space but no one ever mentioned that it involves closed doors. Still, Go out and close the door she says. Also, she says, Don’t let Hannah flush the toilet for me. (Hannah is a baby, you see). It is not her job to flush, she says. It is my job. When she gets udderpanss she can flush herself.

From inside the bathroom comes silence for a long three minutes, then suspicious sounds like running water and splashing. Opening the door a crack, Honey?

I am IN here, she thunders.

Right on.

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