We’re at a wedding. The bride and groom stare into each other’s eyes as their friends recite Rumi. Behind them lies a sprawling apple orchard and everything is in bloom. The groom is beaming like a cartoon version of himself. The bride is full of grace. Sage sits on my lap and then on her father’s shoulders. She is riveted. She knows something special is happening. She scans the scene collecting all the details. “They’re getting married,” she keeps whispering like she’s watching aliens land in the back yard and can’t believe her eyes.

As the couple takes their vows and then skip arm in arm towards the reception, I imagine my daughter in love. I picture the look she’ll sport and the hours she’ll spend in her room whispering into the phone, ” You hang up… no you… no you hang up…ok we’ll count to three and then we’ll both hang up. One…two…three. Did you hang up? No…me neither…I love you…I love you more…”

I think about how I’ll feel when someone breaks her heart. I imagine what I’ll say and how she’ll yell at me when I tell her, “there will be others, someone even more right”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about!” She’ll bark, and I’ll rub her back as I plot ways to take out the little shit who made her so sad. For now, Sage’s universe revolves around my husband and me, a few dolls, a couple of close relatives, and a large rubber duck. It’s safe and controlled. I’ve got years, until I have to help her navigate the big wide world of love and loss.

But then, out of nowhere, emerging from a sea of apple blossoms, a girl in a yellow dress trots up the hill. She works the orchard like it’s a dance floor. She spins, she leaps, she does an arabesque. She’s at least two and a half, maybe even three. Her senior status alone makes her a rock star in my daughter’s eyes.

Sage is immediately smitten.

“Who’s that?” she asks, like this twirling toddler must be an “A-list” movie star.

“I wanna play with her…” Sage whispers.  “Mommy can you help me know her name?” She begs.

As we approach, my daughter practices her introductions, “I’m gonna say I’m Sage,” she informs me.

“Oh that’s a good one” I say, “Open with that.”

Within minutes Sage and Yellow Dress are running after each other, frolicking down the isles of perfectly planted trees. We meet the girl’s father. He’s lovely. As we follow our children we start to frolic too. This dad is funny and down-to-earth. My husband and I exchange a nod like, ” I hope this Yellow Dress Girl thing works out. I could see a future with these folks.”

Sage is exhilarated.  Yellow Dress girl teaches Sage how to point her toe. Yellow Dress Girl reaches out to hold her hand. She drags Sage around the wedding grounds saying, “come on little Sage, I need to show you this, I need to show you that.” It’s all going so well. I want this new girl to move in, I want her to be in our family. She’s so friendly. Sage is puffed up with pride as she moves just like Yellow Dress Girl. She keeps looking over at me like, “Do you see this mom?  Yellow Dress just taught me to shimmy? I never knew my shoulders could move like this! Me and Yellow Dress are gonna own this wedding.”

And just when I start planning our first family vacation with Yellow Dress and her folks, a little darling in a polka dot jumper enters the scene. She looks shy and delicate. She’s eyeing Yellow Dress and quietly inching close when all of a sudden she falls down landing conveniently right at Yellow Dress’s heels. Yellow Dress extends a hand. “Are you okay?” she asks, and then gives this kid a gentle back rub.

“Come with me little girl,” she says like she’s this child’s Mommy. “I’ll show you all the apples.”

And just like that my daughter has been replaced. Sage throws herself into the grass and cries. “Mommy! Where’s Yellow Dress? I wanna play with her!”

Yellow Dress just gives a little “See ya” glance as she takes Polka dot’s hand.

But Polka dot can’t quite keep up and then she poops and her Mommy needs to take her away for her diaper change. Now Yellow Dress in alone.

I can see her scanning the orchard for my daughter. When she finally spots my kid she bends down and picks a dandelion. “Nice tactic.” I think to myself, “We’ll see if it works!”

When she presents Sage this little peace offering my kid just rips the bloom right off the flower and throws it onto the ground.

This is passion.

Yellow Dress is completely thrown. She looks confused. Sage begins sauntering off towards the dance floor. Now I’m feeling bad for Yellow Dress. It’s looking like tables have turned and Yellow Dress has really lost her bearings. Sage glances back and shows Yellow Dress this gyrating hip swirl that she’s been perfecting since she could stand. She really wants to rub it in Yellow Dress’s face: “Do you see what you gave up?” but Yellow Dress will not let her go she follows my daughter all around the dance floor. She repeats all Sage’s moves. She claps for my kid after each twirl and hop. After a while I can see Sage warming up. But she’s not quite sure. She runs from Yellow Dress and then stops and waits. Yellow Dress follows and embraces Sage.  Sage runs again. Clearly she is testing this kid’s loyalty. How committed is she? After all, she did stray within the first forty-five minutes. She could still be trouble. But Yellow Dress is in it for real now. No matter where my daughter goes this kid is at her side. After a while Sage is convinced.

“Mommy I need my note book.” She tells me with a serious look on her face.

“The one we just got? The one you’ve been carrying around for the past week? The one you can’t live without?”

“My notebook,” she reiterates.

“What for? ” I ask.

“I’m gonna give it to Yellow Dress,” she informs me.

That’s when I know it’s serious. Sage is going to share her most prized possession with this kid.

I take up the defense. If Yellow Dress ditches my kid again I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to kick her ass.

The notebook exchange is made and Yellow Dress holds it like it’s a tiny sparrow, precious and new. The two girls strut around. All the guests have taken notice. The wedding photographers cease to follow the bride and groom. They’re now trailing this burgeoning toddler twosome. When the little ones hit the dance floor the sea of people parts around them. We once again take up with Yellow Dress’s parents. We marvel at our children together. We dream of future play- dates. They live hours away from us but maybe, just maybe, we can make this thing work.

As the sun goes down we break from our conversation to notice our kids are starting to melt into the dance floor. We swoop them up and begin to make our exit. As we walk to our cars and wave goodbye there is a moment where we could exchange numbers. We could give it a real go.

But we don’t. They head one way and we head the other.

As we cruise down the highway Sage whispers sleepily into my ear, “I have so much fun with Yellow Dress” she says. “Maybe she can come over? Maybe to my house…?” She asks hopefully.

“Maybe someday.” I say, not wanting to break her heart just yet.

Even if it’s all forgotten in the morning.

For now, it’s first love.

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