It is more than just a black truck with chalk on it. The sun shines, each finger of light enveloping my barefoot daughter. She doesn’t care. Her mind is on a black truck and she is eager to add her own flair to the chaos. I am standing, a few feet behind her, listening to music blaring from the stereo speakers, breathing fresh air, my eye focused on each of her chalk strokes. I don’t expect my eyes to be moist, but I feel a little breathless from my own thoughts.
Looking at her, I feel innocence. Her world is full of goodness, green grass, sprinklers, and playing ring-a-round-the rosie with her favorite friend Rachel. She only stops to laugh hard, her whole body shakes with joy, and she grins at me, a smile that understands the beauty of simple things. I stop and savor this life byte because I know it will change one day. She will learn that the world with all its grace is sometimes cruel. As I record this moment in my mind, she turns around, her hands covered with a rainbow of chalk, she yells, “Momma, this is fun, right?” I nod my head as she returns to her task.
She will not be four years old forever. It is a bittersweet feeling, watching your child grow, as every year passes by, they move farther away from your embrace. I remember the day we brought her home. I was so nervous, carrying her like she wasn’t a baby, but fragile glass. When we put her in a car seat, I was worried that the strap was too tight and as I sat in the back seat with our new life, tears streamed down my face. It is the tears that cry at the amazement of bringing a new life into the world, with all its imbalance, realizing that you are responsible for someone other than yourself. Those are shock and awe tears, as I like to call them.
The tears yesterday were different. They were tears of watching todays turn into yesterdays. She won’t be holding chalk forever. Chalk will turn into her holding a pencil, tracing her name for the first time. As she learns to write, pencil will turn into pen, a mark of her entering into the real world. Once she enters this world, chalk will be left behind, a rite of passage of sorts from childhood to adulthood. It isn’t just sidewalk chalk, it is so much more I say to myself, as I walk over and give my daughter an embrace.