"There is a cat," says my 3.5 year-old daughter.
We are sitting at a table in our local library and she is "reading" to me from a Rainbow Fairy chapter book. Whenever we come to the children's section of the library she immediately secures the lone red plastic wagon with the blue handle (there are also two blue wagons with yellow handles, but apparently these are less desirable than the red) and rushes to the chapter book spinners to peruse and select her books. Recently she announces that she will only select the Rainbow Fairy books with the PINK covers.
Conveniently there are dozens and dozens of Rainbow Fairy books with pink covers.
Once her wagon is loaded to almost overflowing, Esme comes to me to "check out" her books. This involves me sitting with an old computer keyboard in my lap "scanning" each book - passing it over the keyboard while saying, "Beeeeeep." I scan them. She puts them back in the wagon.
Today Esme grabs my hand when we're done "checking out" her books. "Come," she says, pulling me to my feet.
"Where are we going?"
"To a party!" she says with a grin.
"Whose party?" I ask.
"Margaret's party! It's Margaret's birthday party today."
Margaret is Esme's baby doll. The doll who goes EVERYWHERE with us. Whose clothes, despite numerous washings, have degraded to a rather unfashionable shade of pale grey. Who is, according to my daughter, the source of all trouble in our house. When I comment that the living room is a huge mess, Esme informs me, "Margaret did it. Margaret makes big messes!" When I trip over the scooter suddenly laying behind me on the kitchen floor, Esme says with a straight face, "It was Margaret." And when I return to the living room one day after folding some laundry in the bedroom to discover an entire bowl of Triscuits crumbled to little bits and spread all over the couch...the apparent culprit, "Margaret."
We really do love Margaret despite her trouble-making tendencies.
So, apparently, today is Margaret's birthday (it was also her birthday a week ago Thursday, several times in January and on multiple occasions throughout the last six months) and we're having a party in the library.
Esme pulls all of the rolling chairs from the computer desks over to a table. There is no one else in the children's section right now so I make no objection.
"You sit here! In this one," says Esme pointing.
She then pulls half a dozen Rainbow Fairy books from her hoard, slaps one on the table in front of me and says, "This is yours. You read."
"No, wait!" she says, yanking the book out of my hand. "I read this one to you."
She opens the book to the middle and begins in the sweet sing-song voice she uses when she tells her stories, "There is a cat. The cat doesn't want to be picked up. I pick up the cat. I say, 'Shh cat. You OK. You OK.' I put the cat down. The end!"
She closes the book and looks at me with a huge smile.
"You have so many stories to tell," I say to my daughter. "So many stories to tell."
And with that she opens another book to tell me yet another story. This is what the rest of the party consists of - her "reading" the rest of the half a dozen books to me and Margaret. Some of the stories have a plot and even make some sense, but most of them simply involve Esme experimenting with different words in nonsensical combinations, half-talking and half-singing.
I'm pretty certain based on prior experiences that Margaret will have another birthday soon. Probably not in the library. More than likely at home where Esme will "bake" her a cake in her play kitchen and I will be commanded to sit at the kitchen table where I will have to eat the pretend cake over and over and over again.