On my Sunday-morning walk with the girls (come to think of it, the next time Julia asks, “Why don’t we go to church on Sundays?” (as she did on Sunday), I’m going to reply, “Because it would interfere with our walks”), Vivi and Julia reenacted this little routine at a certain corner two blocks from home: I crouch down, clasp hands with one of them, and then lift as that kid climbs up me – her feet on my shins, knees, waist (if I’m lucky), stomach, chest, shoulders (and if you’re Vivi, my face). (The other kid stands nearby, shouting, “Me next! Me next!”)
It’s fun, one of those things that strike me as quintessentially dad-ly, and they’re both still diminutive enough that I can actually do it. But as I helped Julia scale my torso for the third or fourth time, I looked down at her legs and realized with a start that they were kid legs, not baby legs – gangly, not chubby; lightly tanned, not pink; lean, not thick; long, not stubby. I missed this transformation, which is all the more shameful because she has worn only skirts and dresses – no shorts or pants – since May. Before long, she’ll be as tall as me and hopefully using those legs to run ten miles or swim 1,000 meters or bike a century – or patrol the stacks at the library or help her sister through the first day of seventh grade.