Last day in Britain

It’s surprisingly satisfying to divide up Sophie’s bulky, non-transportable possessions among her British acquaintances. Emma was the only one small enough to inherit Soph’s outgrown clothes. Carla gets her tricycle, because — despite that one day of hitting — Carla has the most beatific smile on her face whenever she borrows Sophie’s bicycle. Robert gets her paints, and Robert’s mom gets my novels. Siwan’s older siblings get Sophie’s less-favored books, especially the paper-doll book which I can no longer bear the sight of. Each of them gets a ball or marble. Lino gets her plastic shopping-cart and plastic food. Each of them also gets a good-bye note, written by me, decorated by Sophie. We made those last night.

We have all those packages ready for delivery, today, and could conceivably spend all day delivering them, but I also want to get in one last bike-ride, too, past cows and rivers and cathedrals, before Ben boxes up my heavy British bike for me to lug onto the airplane. Also, I’m afraid of the Sophie tears that may result when she realizes we’re going to give away that plastic grocery-cart and big plastic balls.

We’re keeping a few of Sophie’s new British toys: the tea-set, most books, and the baby-laptop that plays irritating songs. Also the pipecleaners. I need to go find more pipe-cleaners, today, for airplane activities. Where does one buy pipecleaners? Art stores? Pipe stores? In the manual of how-to-rear-a-child, there should be an entry on where to buy pipecleaners, because I just don’t know.

When we get back to San Diego, I’m going to have to figure out how to move a big bed into Sophie’s room without Ben’s help. I don’t think she’ll fit in her crib anymore. I’m going to have to find Sophie a lot of larger clothing, because she has shot upwards this summer. I’m going to have to find some children’s books about potties, too, to really start the potty-training in earnest. Sophie is far more certain, now, when she announces, “I big kid.”

All of this planning is a way to displace my dread at a 15-hour plane ride, alone with a two-year-old. We have sticker books, though, and at least the 15 hours will be over by midnight tomorrow, San Diego time. I can’t really comprehend going home. The streets will seem so wide. The people will seem so loud. My attention will become more divided, once the semester starts up again. But mostly it’s unimaginable, so all I do is step-by-step, packing up Sophie’s outgrown clothes for Emma.


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