Reese steps off the school bus. Her hair is messy, her leggings have a hole in the knee, her jacket hangs partially open, her bookbag droops down her back, and she's making a face of concentration as she sticks her tongue in the gap left by her first lost tooth. She's a sight to behold.
We come inside the house where she drops everything on the floor, takes off her shoes and socks, and flings herself onto the couch. She shows me the book she selected from the school library: Slinky Scaly Snakes. She's enthralled with the picture of the python swallowing a gazelle. "Are you serious?" she exclaims. Her voice rises an octave on the word "serious." "I never knew," she gasps.
Her little sister walks over and cranes her neck so she can see, too. It's become a family affair. Sweet.
For the record, I, too, never knew that rock pythons could swallow entire gazelles. Nor did I know that my child would bring a book home in kindergarten depicting this feat in a two-page, full-color, high-resolution photo, but that's another story.
We finish the book after reading lots of educational sentences like, "The snake sticks in its fangs into the animal. The poison shoots through the fangs and into the animal's body. It does not take long for the animal to die," and "Then the snake starts to squeeze tight... tighter... tighter. Soon the rat's heart stops."
Pretty much every page ends with some version of the snake swallowing its prey whole (or whole and headfirst, which I thought was a particularly heartwarming detail.)
She takes it all in stride and assures me that she will not touch a copperhead or a rattlesnake if she ever sees one. I thank her for that.
We finish the book. She sticks her tongue through the gap between her teeth and then launches into a song that she heard on the bus.
I'm pretty sure that it was just yesterday when this little person was wearing diapers and toddling around the house with her brown bear dangling by his arm in her clenched hand, and now she's not flinching when entire animals (animals larger than her, I should point out) are swallowed whole. Headfirst.
Joel recently noted that in two short years, Kerrington will be two-and-a-half years old like Brooke is now. Brooke will be close in age to where Reese currently is. And Reese, our vivacious and headstrong firstborn who's still breaking us in to this parenting gig, will be something the likes of which we've never seen before.
She's molting, I tell you. There's no stopping that girl from growing.