She was whispering.
I think that she had planned to keep it a secret from me, just in case I would exercise the sovereign right to suddenly confiscate which mothers possess. As I admittedly have done with other treasures withdrawn from her pocket, such as a snowball, an uncapped glue stick, and a ball of baby wipes–all in recent memory.
She pulled something tiny out of her pocket and set it reverently on the table.
“I found this in the playroom heater when Dyne and I were in there this afternoon.”
The playroom heater is actually a hole in the floor about a foot by three feet and over thirty inches deep, with a heavy metal grate over it. The rectangular holes in the grate are large enough for a large baby boy to reach his arm through nearly to the shoulder, so many toys and puzzle pieces have been lost in its dark depths. Today I entered the playroom after an absence of approximately five minutes to find the toy chest I had placed over the grate pushed aside, the heavy grate removed and lying on the rug, Norah peering excitedly into the depths, and Harriet, underground to the shoulders, mining in the yuckiness for treasures. Hugh was teetering on the edge about to topple inside.
Apparently, during the hubbub that followed Norah hadn’t wanted to mention what she’d found.
Her eyes sparkling, she said in a hushed voice, “It’s a little shoe.”
Then, and absolutely seriously: “A princess that was real that was very little could have lost it there. I think she was living in there a long time ago, probably.”
The worst part of all the busyness of the moment is the knowledge that three precious little childhoods are daily fleeting away in my house. One of the things I’d been feeling badly about is that I hadn’t made more time to tickle their imaginations. Now I don’t feel quite so worried about it.