We were all walking back from the dentist, and it had gone better than I thought it would. No one had actually tantrumed, and aside for the moment when I thought that Coco-pop was going to bite the dentist' finger, all the little girls in my life had kept their cool.
It was a little bit of a walk, getting back home, but it was downhill, which is a rare pleasure in Jerusalem (I thought the line was about Jerusalem being SURROUNDED by hills, not built on them, but then, I have killer muscular EVERYTHING now, so that's good)and there was a breeze in the air. The girls held on to either side of the stroller, which contained a sleeping Turtle. We passed by a small food stand, and the salty/sweet smell of popcorn wafted in on the next breeze. On impulse, I bought a 3-shekel bag of fresh popcorn, and the popcorn man filled the bag with a large metal scooper and handed the bulging result to Princess.
And we walked, the girls munching handfuls of popcorn, licking their salty lips with the tips of their tongues.
"Ow!" The procession stopped abruptly. I looked down. Coco-pop's eyes were filling with tears. She held a hand out to me to inspect. "I bit my finger!"
I bent down, took the finger, and kissed it. There was a half-moon of dirt behind the nail, and her skin tasted like popcorn. She smiled up at me a little sheepishly. "Maybe I thought it was popcorn. But really, it was my finger."
Princess hooted with laughter, her dimple flashing. I followed suit, kissed the finger again, and so did Coco-pop, delighted at her new-found ability to make everyone laugh. And suddenly, out of the clear blue Jerusalem sky, a wave of happiness hit me. I staggered beneath the weight of it, beneath the weight of the treasures that I had been entrusted with.
Who will they be when they grow up? Flashed in my mind as my laughing girls worked their way through the rest of the bag and we walked slowly home. The rest of my mind frowned at the stray thought. It's enough, the rest of my mind said. It's enough just to walk down the street and eat popcorn, and maybe have a chance to kiss a dirty little finger and make the sun shine again in the brilliant blue Jerusalem sky.
It's enough for now to hold their hands. It's enough that they don't know yet about letting go.