Penelope (age 3) is the child in our house least likely to care. It’s not that she’s mean spirited or coldhearted; it’s just that she’s busy being very three. Her siblings, now eight and six, get excited about stocking the shelves of the local food pantry every week. At night they pray for the kids we sponsor. It was their idea to make a card for one of Redneck Neighbor’s daughters when she was too sick to come out and play.
While the older kids did these things, Penelope did three year-old stuff like put on a tiara and a tutu and jump on her bed and demand to be spun around in an office chair. Stuff like that.
But today was different. For a second she cared. Just a second.
She came and found me, reached for my hand and exclaimed that she’d adopted some kids. “Come see!”
She escorted me from my desk to her room, bounded onto her bed and plopped down in a big pile of stuffed animals. “I adopted them,” she said.
“Wow, I bet they’re so glad to have you for their mommy,” I said. “What are their names?”
They were all named Rachel or Sarah; even the boys. And they’d all been given clothes, she said. Earrings made from magnetic letters. One shoe. A headband and, of course, a tiara for the bear in the purple dress.
We played with her new babies for a minute and then I asked, “When you’re big are you going to adopt real babies like Aunt Amy and Uncle Brian?”
“Yes,” she said, and I was happier than happy. She cared.
And then, “‘Cause I don’t want a baby in my vagina.”
The second was over.