I sit at the top of the stairs beside a fallen Barbie with my luke-warm coffee listening to the sounds of a young family scrambling, to put on Dani Rose’s shoes, the ones with laces that she first learned to tie yesterday. Breezy’s bear is picked up off the floor by Cecil County’s newest school social worker. Jennifer lifts her oldest daughter by the waist and hoists her up using her free arm, and presses her in a hurried embrace. When Jen goes to kiss her military husband on the cheek he stoops to meet her. She bumps her lips against his freshly shaven chin. He asks her where his keys are. She hurries back inside the kitchen, and grabs them off the shelf. She puts them in his hand on the way out the door. He’ll call her later on her two hour commute to tell that her he loves her. Then Eric turns to see Dani Rose. She is shoeless and heading out the door after her mommy. He yells: “Dani where are your shoes? We just put them on.”
Dani chants, “mommy, mommy,” as she follows the car backing out of the driveway carrying her mommy away. Eric reaches her before she gets to the street and tosses Dani Rose over one shoulder. She is still kicking and screaming ‘mommy’ when he brings her back inside to find her shoes.
“Breezy do you know where Dani’s shoes went?”
“Not my problem,”she says. “I’m just the big sister.” She slings her backpack over her shoulder and heads for the SUV to strap herself in. At seven she is no taller than her four year old sister, and two pounds lighter. She has to use the car seat secured in the back seat beside Dani Rose’s. Breezy is irritated when the seat belt doesn’t click in the first time. I can hear her complaint from where I am. She must have left her door open. Eric finds two fuzzy pink slippers under the table by the door. He puts them on Dani’s moving feet. I take a sip of my coffee.
“No, I don’t want to wear those.” Dani Rose kicks one shoe off before Eric can protest.
“Dani I don’t have time for this. You’re going to be late for school. Now keep these on. I don’t have time to find your shoes.”
“I want mommy,” Dani Rose cries. Eric grabs his hat and heads out the door. Dani cries louder, and her big sister joins her, “Daddy I can’t get my seat belt on”.
After a few minutes I hear the SUV back out of the driveway and roll down Memory Lane toward the school where only yesterday, it seems that I took Breezy and Dani Rose’s mom. I take another sip of my coffee, and wipe a tear away. Nostalgia always gets into my eye this time of day.