"What are we gonna do, mom? How about a project?"
I had hunkered down on the couch while Ike was cleaning up dinner - I had cooked sauteed spinach, mushroom, onion and garlic quesadillas in olive oil and balsalmic vinaigrette, covered in smoked mozzarella. I was reluctant to relinquish my corner on the couch to start a project.
"What kind of a project?"
"Um, well, you know that paper? That goes with coffee? The round kind? I know something fun we can do with that."
I was a little confused. "Do you mean coffee filters?"
We have built in coffee filters for our coffee maker, so we don't buy them. I explained this to Sicily, and she was momentarily at a loss.
"Well, I know! You can cut circles out of computer paper and then we can do the project. We can fold them up into triangles and make snowflakes." She went off in search of the scissors, but couldn't find them in the drawer.
I should've gotten up to help her, but instead tried to think of something to do that did not require me moving. "Why don't we eat Popsicles?"
Sicily looked at me warily. "You really want to eat Popsicles? What kind of Popsicles do we have?"
I don't indulge in sweets often, especially in the evening. I would rather use the caloric intake on a chunk of blue cheese, or any kind of cheese, before dinner.
"Fruit juice ones. Look in the freezer. I'll have strawberry, you can have grape."
She was a little surprised since she and John had already had pound cake smothered in orange juice for dessert. She doesn't eat fruit, so I try to get creative with fruit juice at every opportunity. John is different - like a garbage truck. He was stealing the roe off of Ike's sushi tonight and guzzling it down after an entire helping of gyoza - "Yum. Salty, mom."
Sicily opened the freezer and looked at the cover on the box. She proclaimed disappointingly, "Where are the orange kind? That is my favorite. Why didn't you get the box with the orange kind?"
"Sorry. I'll get those next time."
She brought over grape for her and strawberry for me. She said, "I don't like strawberry. The seeds. They bother me." I told her I understood. I was pickier than her, even, as a child. I didn't try pizza until I was twelve. I remember trying Chinese food for the first time right before I headed off to college.
I opened up the strawberry and told her, "my favorite is the lime, but I ate the last one."
"Mom! There is a lime left! Put the wrapper back on the strawberry and I'll put it away. John can eat it. I'll get you the lime one." She headed back to the freezer, carefully replacing the strawberry Popsicle back in the box. Sure enough, she came up with a lime one. She watched me open it, full of curious anticipation.
"Mom, can I try the lime?"
"Of course. Here."
She took a hesitant lick, then proclaimed, "Oh my gosh I love it! Can I please have the lime?"
I traded her my lime for her grape, and she snuggled next to me on the too small couch space. We shared the grape and lime Popsicles. She assumed control - passing them back and forth with one caveat. "No biting allowed." I laughed, imagining what precluded that rule - her dad taking a giant bite of some previous Popsicle, much to her mortification.
"Mom, when did you eat all the other lime ones?"
"Last week, after you all went to bed."
We savored the Popsicles slowly in a way that Ike and John would have found excruciating. We talked about her day - her lessons, who she ate lunch with, who she played with, what boys were chasing her on the playground. Talk that was usually reserved for after I sang to her at the end of the night. It carried a different flavor out of the covers in the daylight; less hurried and hushed. More like a conversation among friends, instead of a mother/daughter question-and-answer session. It was fun.
John ran in the front door carrying a grasshopper and the spell was broken. Sicily quickly took over the housing and the naming of the new pet, gathering leaves and sticks near the front porch. "Mom, write Jamacia. On this piece of paper, so I can tape it to his house." John wanted to name him Seegaro. Sicily won, as usual.
I need to go buy some more lime Popsicles. I wonder why spell check makes me capitalize the word Popsicle.