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She’s already so sneaky. She walks in the house, facing me, hands behind her back, evil smile on her face. She side-steps passed the dining room doorway, where I am set up with my laptop, working. Her eyes never leave mine.

“What are you doing?” I eye her suspiciously.

“Nuffin!” she says. The grin gets bigger. The twinkle in her eye gets sparklier. She makes a mad dash for the girls playroom in the back when she finally nears the edge of the doorway.

She’s wearing an off white dress with gray drawings of all breeds of doggies on it. It’s her favorite. My animal lover. It has a hot pink ribbon that ties around the waist and adds a bit of pop. Her hair is in a messy side pony, her bangs hanging in her face, as always. A side effect of those ill-fated bangs that she cut herself at Christmas. She has a black headband on her head, with two black, and one gray plaid hearts. She has put it on her hair, in the hopes of keeping her bangs back, but it’s failing miserably. She has a new pair of black and pink Twinkle Toe sneakers that she had her heart set on yesterday when she went back to school shopping.

“What do you have back there?” I inquire again, when I hear rustling coming from the back room.

“Nuffin!” she repeats. A little more attitude this time.

“Don’t lie to me Allie Elizabeth.”

“Fine then. I just have this container that I’m going to put on the counter right now!” She emerges from the room to show me she does, in fact, have a Tupperware container in her hands. The girls are forever swiping these and using them for their snacks.

This excuse may have worked had I not just been in the back room while they were outside and saw that particular container already shoved into a corner of the room. It cannot possibly be what she just snuck inside. “Yeah? What did you put down to pick that up?” Her grin gets bigger. She knows she’s been caught

“FINE! But don’t get mad! I took the clay outside! It’s all right here!”

She brings it to the table, lays it all out for me to see, and then goes about putting it away. Something I asked her to do an hour and a half ago.

She gets everything back into containers and put back away in the closet. Then she looks at me with blue eyes that take up real estate on almost her whole face and says, “Can you help me tie my shoe? I tried and tried, but I just don’t know how to do it yet!”

I bend down and show her the bunny ears, loop, swoop and pull. She watches, eager for information. In a hurry to grow up. Be seen as a big girl. Not be a baby. Able to do everything her sister does.

And I think, while I watch her process the information, no matter who this girl is going to be, no matter what kind of future she has ahead of her, we all needed to be guided at some point. We all had to learn how to fasten buttons. How to tie our shoes.

She is full of spirit. She has that kind of personality that draws a whole room of people to her. She’s the kind of child that makes perfect strangers come up to us and comment on her personality and kindness. At a recent birthday party, she made sure every adult had cake (whether they wanted it or not) before she sat down to eat her own. She is a caretaker, a healer. When I’m not feeling well, she always asks what she can get me, and checks in on me often (and sometimes for WEEKS!) about how I’m currently feeling.

She will be someone amazing someday. As much as I feared world domination when she was little, I can now see a nurse, a doctor, an EMT. A veterinarian with an intense love of animals.

But for now, she’s my baby. She still needs my guidance and a shoulder to snuggle into at night when she gets scared and has a bad dream. The little girl that draws me pictures at every opportunity just to make me smile. The little girl that tells me she’s going to make a million dollars some day so she can build me that dream house on the water.

The summer has gone so fast, and in a couple of short weeks (she starts a full week after Paige) she will be in school full time. No more days filled with Allie incessant chatter, her smiles, her bounciness. I spent five years counting down to this momentous occasion, thinking I could finally escape her endless energy. But I am now realizing just how much of a hole she is going to leave in my days. The house will be quiet again. Kylo (our large Bull Mastiff) will have no one to run laps with from 8:00-8:30 am after Paige gets on the bus. The dogs won’t have anyone that gives them dog cookies out of their mouth (yes, she really does that with our giant dogs). There will be no one to inform me how much milk there is left at the house when I’m grocery shopping. No one to bounce meal ideas off of at 2:00 pm when it comes time to begin dinner preparation.

My days will be quiet again.

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I sure will miss this face.

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