The Unstoppability of Eight

I saw H, that eight-year-old-going-on-twenty-seven today. It’s been a while, and her little light is as bright as ever. Her brother J has a new car seat, though, and I was worrying about how I would get her into the car.

His seat is huge.

It’s like a plush recliner, and it takes up most of the airspace of my not-so-large car. Now, I was thinking, I was going to have to get her in from the traffic side. I worried about it, especially the way people zoom past her school on a busy city street, without noticing or caring that small kids come and go in singles and doubles at that hour, to minivans and SUVs and the occasional sedan. They’re more focused on the end of their day, on the traffic to the highway, on whether they’ll make the light.

I thought about the timing, whether we could make it on a cycle of red, all the way to the driver’s side of the car, if they’d be able to see her.

I was careful to find a space where I wouldn’t have to double park, so we wouldn’t be close to that third lane where drivers work out their frustration at having to slow a bit.

So I collected her from school, and we strolled to my car, catching up after not seeing one another.

I plopped her brother on the passenger seat, which he did not like, after such a lovely bout of being carried, and pulled it as far up as it could go. “Now,” I said, with not a lot of optimism, “we’re going to see if you can get in this way so that we don’t have to go around into the street.”

“Oh,” she replied, her voice full with confidence, “I can get through there.”

“Really?” I said. I looked at her, reed that she is, and the  nearly negligible divide between her brother’s throne and the front seat. “You think?”

“Yes,” she said, “I can.” She slid the backpack from her shoulders like a mountain climber shedding her gear, and gamely flipped it into J’s car seat, with her windbreaker on top. She bent down, and as though traversing a crevice, she tunneled below the seat, to a space I didn’t see when I looked and saw impassibility. She popped up to her full short height and beamed. “See?” she said.

I saw, indeed.

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