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My First Child

My First Child

I expected to be moved by Lucille’s winter concert performance. She had been bouncing around the house for weeks singing “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music. She knew her part well. On the line when the bee stings, she was to run to center stage and put her hands to her head.  And on the line, when I’m feeling sad, she was to put her head on her hands and look forlorn. She had it all down and was ready the night of the performance. There were a few acts before hers and she stood on Seth’s knees asking after each one, “Is it my turn yet!?!”

When she took the stage it was as though she was the only one performing. She was all smiles, knew every word and ran to the center of the stage when it was her turn to shine. She loves the stage, that one, and I was really excited for her because she was oh, so excited.

But the performance that had me wiping tears away that night was Eliza’s. She sang a simple song with her class. While she had been singing it as well the previous few weeks, she wasn’t bouncing with excitement at the possibility of taking the stage. She would do it, because it was required but that was about all. I’d catch her humming the song and ask her what it was to which she’d reply, “It’s in Hindi.”

Hindi, really?

And it was, partly, in Hindi but that really had little to do with why I was moved to tears watching her. It was her face. Her earnest, sweet face that got me.

She also knew every word to the song she performed and as she sang her still chubby cheeks moved in unison with the rest of her class. Her brow was slightly furrowed and her tongue repeatedly hit the place where one front tooth used to be and where the other one hangs on by a thread. She wore her double breasted suit jacket, skinny jeans and DC high tops. She looked amazing, the only girl in a suit, but I couldn’t stop watching the curve of her face. In it I could see all the innocence, love and good intention she carries with her every day. I had to fight not to run up on stage and take her round face into my hands. Instead, I watched and cried.

Eliza is my first child and sometimes I think because of that she has a grip on a charged wire that goes straight to the core of me. She doesn’t yet know this so she tugs it at the strangest times and without knowing. Usually, I’m left without words but with a face full of tears. Maybe it’s always this way with the first, and maybe it always will be.

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Categories: essays

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