As I said in the journal entry for Saturday, I watched AB all morning, then took her to meet the rest of the family for lunch at Jason’s Deli. She’d had enough fun playing with her daddy that she wasn’t too happy when I said, “Okay, put on your shoes. It’s time to go.”
I finally got her out to the car, though, and as she was climbing into her seat she said, “I want my book!”
For a couple months now she’s had a Baby Colors book kicking around the floorboards of my car, and on the rare occasions she’d ridden with me, she has read through it with relish. Sometime in the last week, though, my car go cleaned out. So I had to say, “Sorry, your book isn’t out here. You can read the map, though!” I invested some artificial excitement in that and she bought it, so I gave her the Oklahoma State Roadways map, told her the blue lines were rivers, and then we hit the road.
She spent some time looking over the back page of it that was visible, then said, “What do the red lines mean?”
I glanced back and said, “Oh, those are highways. Big roads. And the black lines are regular roads.”
She said, “Oh.”
I drove about a mile, and she said, “I found letters! There’s my name!” She’d turned it over and was looking at the front cover — MAP in giant block red letters, and the A was what she was calling her name. I chuckled and spelled it out to her, told her the word, and went on driving.
She was quiet a while, then said, “Here’s my house! And here’s Sophy’s house.”
I said, “Can you find a path between them? Try to trace the black lines from one to the other….” I could tell that was a little too advanced for her, even as I said it, and she just didn’t respond. After a moment, though, I heard the crinkle of her unfolding the map for the first time. And then silence, then another crinkle, and I glanced back to find her staring in fascination at the partly-unfolded map in her lap.
She poked the stiff paper, heard its crinkle, and tilted the still-folded edge to get a good look at it. I could see her thinking. Then she said, “Daddy! I want to show you something!”
While I watched in rearview glances, she unfolded the map all the way, then looked at it for a moment with a critical eye. She folded it back in half, longways, to get a tall rectangle, then held it up in front of her, hiding her face. Then she said, “Now say, ‘Annabelle! Annabelle!'”
I did as instructed. All excited, I called, “Annabelle! Annabelle!”
With just her left hand, she bent down the top corner of the map so I could see the mildly exasperated look on her face, and she said, “What is it, Daddy? I’m reading the paper!”