Sophie strums a melodic vent in our apartment, announces, “I violin man. Throw change.” So I scatter coins at her feet, just like her favorite sidewalk busker.
Later, she will watch in fascination as I use a screwdriver to unscrew the vent, to retrieve the coins she has posted there while I was cooking dinner.
Sophie dances to a Kurdish guitar, called Saz, gorgeously. She turns a chaotic visit to our Turkish neighbors into a moment to treasure. The two youngest children dance, the older two settle down, the Saz thrums wonderfully, the rain pours down outside.
Sophie cleans the park. I am finally British enough to remember to bring a rag to the park on rainy days, to wipe the slide dry. Sophie then attempts to wipe everything clean, full of self-importance at her imagined usefulness.
Sophie got her first-ever haircut and behaved beautifully, mesmerized by the woman in the next salon-chair, who was having highlights put in, with all the foil and fuss that entails. I had been worried, because Cambridge doesn’t seem to have the kids’-only salons that exist in Southern California, but I shouldn’t have worried. Sophie takes her cues from the others around her, so she was a model of decorum. She got a subtly stylish cut. Now she keeps asking, “More haircut, please?”
Sophie decides that she can’t abide the word, “ready,” so, from now on, I must just say, “set, go.”
Sophie asks me to tell her, “What’s Sophie doing?” so many hundreds of times each day that I start to occasionally answer, “What’s Sophie doing? You’re endlessly asking, ‘What’s Sophie doing?’”
I have started using the brand of dishwashing liquid that is supplied “By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.” It turns out that I like the queen’s taste in dish-soap. Ben likes her taste in marmalade. That may epitomize our summer in Britain: domestic yet foreign.
Sophie is getting better at avoiding the bullies in the park.
Sophie starts singing duets with me, when she rides on her bikeseat on the back of my bike. Her “singing” may be better called caterwauling, but I think her shouted nonsense syllables harmonize quite well with my own singing.
And my first niece was born an ocean away in upstate New York. Welcome to the world, Nora!