A recollection, called from not too long ago:
Me, wearing blue jeans and a wrinkled brow, sitting on a quilted bedspread, trying to decipher the myriad secrets of pre-calculus homework and memorizing the minutiae of the Seven Years' War. Enter my little sister, five years old, owner of flashing brown eyes and a disarming grin that could have wooed bin Laden away from any hatred against American personage. While she is quite adept at marring my steadfast resolutions to hit the books, this time her coy manipulations have hit a deaf ear. Work hath consumed me, and I try with all of my might to ignore a subtle change in the sparkle of her eye I observe at my near periphery.
"Jessica, play a game with me."
"It's TWO ZERO SIX." She had just learned to tell time, and had yet to grasp the concept of double digits. "The time to play with me is now!"
"Lauren. How many times have I told you. I have homework. I have to go to a good college."
At the mention of this, she throws herself petulantly on the bed, an imitation (or was it?) of despair that Sarah Heartburn herself would have applauded.
"Please! Homework, homework, homework! That's all you do anymore! And you don't even love me anymore!"
I sigh. I recognize her manipulations, yet she's gotten me again. I offer her a most cherished treat:
"I'll take a bath with you. At EIGHT ZERO ZERO".
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the bestest sister in the whole world!!!! I love you!" With a hug and a kiss she leaves me again to King George III and trigonometric functions, yet somehow they have lost their former scholarly appeal upon my psyche.
Eight zero zero rolls around and Lauren is happy again, her flashing eyes have returned and I let subject myself to her favorite task, washing my hair under the scalding hot of the faucet, soaping it clean and brushing it meticulously with her hot pink Barbie comb. We splash each other, play the Powerpuff Girls (she's always Bubbles) and making funny beards out of Harry Potter bubble bath. Whoever said commercialism stole one's soul never accompanied a little girl and her cast of many characters at bathtime. It is her avenue of creativity, and a touching one at that.
The most pivotal exchange, as I was drying her off with a towel:
"Jessica, when will you be a little girl again?"
I stopped, cold. We had explained aging months ago. Would Piaget have approved of this sudden lapse in judgment?
"Of course not. I'm almost a woman, anyways. I'm a big girl now."
"Jessica, you are SO silly! I mean when we're in heaven of course, together, and God is watching us. We'll be little girls together, and play all day, and you'll never have homework again! When you're a little girl, I mean."
She punctuated this with a kiss, failing to notice in the steam a single hot tear sliding down my cheek, a tear of wonder at a faith pure, shining, and true; unmarred by the coming tempest of doubts and the insecurity of adolescence that plague me still to insomnia during many restless nights.
How beautiful is a child's simple faith!