We’re at the breakfast table. Ezra (3) says he has no idea how to count to twenty. Papa says, “Of course you do! You count to twenty all the time in your counting book!” Ezra denies this. He insists he has no idea. I offer this: you count to ten and I’ll count with you up to twenty. So we do.
At twenty, Ezra wails, “But there are lots of other numbers!” Indeed.
So we keep counting. At twenty-three, I realize that we’re enumerating the years of my life, and I try to recall each one. I know I loved twenty-eight, the birthday I first held my PhD and had a job I loved and a husband and a house and two beautiful dogs and a keen sense of gratitude about all of it. Thirty was lovely, too, building a new community of amazing friendships in a new and welcoming area. Thirty-three and -four were stressful for a bunch of reasons; thirty-five was when I got pregnant, finally, and went through massive, life-altering and transformative changes deciding to leave my job/career. “Thirty-six is how old I was when you were born,” I say to Ezra. “Thirty-eight is how old I was when your brother was born. Thirty-nine is how old I am today, and forty is how old I turn soon.”
Hurray! Birthdays! We love those! A brief flurry of shouting. And then…
“Forty-one, forty-two, forty-three…”
And I head for my computer, smiling to myself, because how can little kids offer such wisdom and perspective? After all, that’s what this birthday thing is, right? Another step, another day, another year, stretching out in front of us. God willing. I hear Ezra chanting from the kitchen: “Fifty-four, fifty-five, fifty-six…”