I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me
Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too
— John Mayer, Daughters
My Maia—such a curiosity after having had two sons—this daughter who looks at me with the world in her eyes, who refuses all other arms when she sees me walk in the door. I remember wondering to myself, two years ago, what would I do with a daughter?—I who had raised two sons in two decades.
But she knew, this who used to be such a tiny bundle, she knew right from the start what needed doing.
From the first time I held her in my arms eight hours after she saw the light of day, she knew who I was, she knew my arms, she knew the breast that was offered to her tiny little mouth and she knew exactly what to do with it. She knew her father’s warmth when he first took her in his arms, she savored the heat of his love and forgave the inexperienced crook of his elbows. Barely a month after we took her home she knew her older brother’s shadow, and would follow him with her eyes wherever he went.
These days she will recall everyone who has carried her in their arms. She remembers older cousins who have been to the house once and played with her. She recognized immediately her eldest brother when he walked into the door at Christmas, after last seeing him six months ago. She “sings along” with the cartoon musicals, she has memorized all the screeches and yelps, she adores Dora the Explorer and recognizes her everywhere with a point and the word “Backpack!”
She knows that screwdrivers turn screws and hammers pound on nails. She has toy plastic tools that she condescends to play with if we take the real tools from her reach. Last Sunday as I was preparing to cook lunch, she stood beside me at the kitchen counter and after reaching into the lower cupboard she handed me the plastic jar of cooking oil.
She knows a lot, this big little girl, probably more than what these hapless adults around her do, and she’d tell us too if she could actually talk like one, but she seems to be reserving that for a time that only she will decide. Until then we will willingly wait.
She turns two today, our daughter Himaya Amarantha, the best Valentine’s gift her father and I have ever received.