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I stayed a step behind, just within earshot, and a swift move away should a parenting decision immediately present itself while she walked hand in hand with one of her best friends. They discussed a passing butterfly, a monarch Madison acknowledged from a Halloween costume past, and the colorful shutters of the houses lining the streets littering their conversation with girly giggles and spontaneous skips. 

I observed the developing friendship between them and found myself smiling at how natural their bond is and how easy they’re able to trade sentences as if they’ve been friends a lifetime even though their age proves only two years is the case. I was unintentionally hanging on their every word when I heard her friend make a statement, an effort to correct her pronunciation.

It was completely innocent, not malicious in any way. It was an honest assessment, not critical at all. It was an observation her mother and I have both had on our own. It’s in these moments we see the true character of our children. It’s in these moments we witness the traits we take pride in ourselves or the faults we desperately hope they don’t inherit, a reaction that could easily make or break the day entirely. I held my breath and let her respond on her own…

“I know. I have trouble with my L’s,” she said. “I’m working on it though.”

An acceptable nod from her friend and they picked up right where they left off, creating inside jokes and laughing when they finished the other’s thought. I was impressed. I wish I could brush things off that easily or admit my struggles with such confidence or be that receptive without fear of hurt feelings. I’m constantly learning how to be a better me in the process of helping her become a better her.

That night we stood in front of the mirror placing our tongues just behind our front teeth listening to the sound L makes. We said every word we could think of that started with the letter and we la-la-la’d until we laughed and we laughed until our stomachs hurt. Her mother shared stories of struggling with the letter S letting out little whistles as she spoke and we practiced some more.

We soaked in every word she mispronounced because one day she’s going to master her L’s and we’re going to want nothing more than to hear yeah-yo instead of yellow and all the words we said over and over until they sounded funny and their spelling seemed questionable… look, learn, live, laugh, love... yet in those moments, their meanings had never been more clear.


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