Beanie stayed awake past ten the other night, long after the lights had been turned out, her sisters had fallen asleep, and even the story tape the girls were listening to had wound to its satisfying end and clicked off. I know this because she got out of bed and padded downstairs to tell us she couldn’t sleep. I followed her back up to the girls’ room and climbed into bed beside Beanie, because she is not quite five years old and the days when she won’t need mommy to snuggle with her are not so very far away.
She poured herself into the curve shaped by my arms and my swelling stomach, and we lay there a while in the dark, listening to the soft breathing of her two older sisters, while her newest sister, the one who’ll be born in April, bump-bump-bumped little taps against Beanie’s back. Bean sighed, the kind of long, happy, exaggerated sigh you only ever hear a child make. This is very good, that sigh was saying.
Then, into the hush, Beanie whispered a question. A dark room, late at night, cuddled up with your mother: it was exactly the sort of moment that brings out the philosopher in a child, and when she began to speak, I waited for the deep, probing question that was bound to come.
"Mommy," she murmured, "did you know that ducks never get wet? Because they have waterproof feathers!"
Um, no. No, I don’t think I did know that. Well, there you go.