She's afraid of cars, their noises, their speed. And she gets nervous when she crosses the street, even when she's right next to me.
But she's walking. And that makes me happy. Very happy. Because, as recently as two weeks ago, I'd have to scoop her up into my arms every time we crossed a street.
We reach the car and, here, I pick her up to get ready to open the door, to get her buckled into her car seat.
We never get that far.
I notice her looking past me, intently staring at something. We're right next to the vehicle, doors still shut, so what could it be?
She's looking at her reflection in the tinted window, smiling at herself.
I turn around completely and she's now smiling at both of us.
She leans in and squishes her cheek to my cheek, making a smushy face.
And grins at our reflection.
Mommy loves you, I say.
She signs it back.
And then signs "friends."
We had a little electrical issue in our house Sunday evening. So the kitchen went dark, very dark, just as the kids finished their homework. Millie got scared, whimpered, and I scooped her up, waiting for Ray to get the lights back on.
She's afraid of the dark, of the things she can't see. Even in my arms, she was anxious.
I softly started singing, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," to calm her down.
Instinctively, her head dropped to my shoulder, her body went limp and we swayed.
It used to be our bedtime routine. Every night. Twice through, every time, in the middle of her bedroom, the lights dimmed to low.
It was one of the few things we lost as we transitioned this summer to room-sharing for the girls. No more lullabies for Millie, who wanted then to be a big kid just like Lola. No, now they cuddle up side by side and giggle themselves to sleep, sharing stories and games that no one but them can understand.
But for one tiny moment, in the too-dark kitchen, she was my tiny little toddler girl.
My big girl, yes, but always my baby.