Kallan comes tumbling up the stairs and into the room, where she finds me lying in bed reading. She pauses in the doorway, and then with a loud “Ca-CAHW!” she flaps enormous imaginary wings of crow and bounds over to the side of the bed, where she stands and stares at me menacingly, “Ca-CAHW!” When I do not respond, she climbs up onto the bed with me.
I am not pleased, “Sweetie, I am not in the mood. I’m reading.”
She ignores my protest and stands over me, her arms spread wide, “Ca-CAHW!”
“Sit down, you goofball. Why are you are a giant crow, anyway?”
Bouncing to sitting, she shrugs, “No reason.”
“OK, well you can be in here only if you are quiet. I’m reading.”
“You’re not really reading so much as you are hiding.”
“Whatever. French Maj is scary.”
Kallan giggles, “I know, right? Will she calm down after her French test tomorrow?”
“I hope so. I’m just trying to stay out of her way.”
“Want to hear a song I made up about poo?”
“No, Kallan. No, I do not. I want to lie here quietly and read this book.”
“I love the way you lie.”
Singing now, “I love the way you lie.”
“Stop singing dysfunctional Rihanna words at me. Go get a book or something.”
“Wait, Mom . . . listen.” She clears her throat, “This is a song about a girl who does not believe in privacy and the boy with digestive issues who loves her.”
“Kallan, there is something very wrong with you.”
She stands tall on the bed and holds a pretend microphone, “This is called Love Song for Rhea.”
“Shhh . . . if French Maj comes up here and screams at us for disturbing her studying, I am going to kill you.”
Kallan taps the pretend microphone and brings her voice down low and sultry . . . “Just gonna stand there and watch me poo . . . Well, that’s alright ‘cause I love everything you do. Just going to stand there, watch me groan and cry . . . Well, that’s alright ‘cause I love the way you pry.”
“Umm, where’s Rhea?”
“Shhh. Mom, just listen.” She clears her throat again and continues . . . “Just going to stand there and smell my farts . . . Well, that’s alright ‘cause we should never be apart. Just going to wipe for me . . . hear me cry . . . I pray that you will never ever dieeeeee, Rhea! Please don’t ever ever diiiiieieeeee, Rhea. Because I love the way you pry.”
I stare up at her as she finishes, “I am speechless.”
Kallan sinks happily back down into the bed, “Did you see what I did there with die and Rhea?”
“Oooh . . . want to see something really cool?”
“Don’t suppose there’s any way the cool thing is you getting a book and reading with me, is there?”
“Nope. Look what I can do with my tummy!” She lifts her shirt high and sucks her tiny tummy in as far as it will go.
“Mom, that’s not the cool thing. Watch.”
I watch as she starts to roll her tummy like a belly-dancer, in and out in waves that undulate up and down her abdomen, “OK, that’s cool but it’s also kind of freaking me out. When did you learn to do that?”
“I just figured it out . . . isn’t it awesome?” She keeps rolling her tummy as she talks, staring down at the effect, “It’s like there is something trying to claw its way out with hands of mini-dodgeball.”
“Little round-balled ineffective hands, Mom. Hands of mini-dodgeball. Duh. Later, I am going to pretend to Maj that there is an alien inside of me, writhing to escape. She is going to LOVE that.”
“She is not going to love that. She is going to scream.”
Kallan smiles, “I know!” Her face grows suddenly serious, and she pauses in her tummy-rolling to place her fingers just below the center of her ribcage, “Mom, did you know the part where you get the wind knocked out of you is right here?”
She touches with careful exploring fingertips, her voice serious, “I knew it was somewhere in this general area, but I didn’t know it was exactly here.”
I wait, figuring there must be more to this discussion. There is.
“So I was sitting and eating lunch with my friends today at school, and I was practicing my tummy-rolling.”
“Wait, your friends are all doing this weird tummy thing?”
“What? No, just me. I was doing it all stealthy. Anyway, I had my hands on my tummy to feel when I got it going, and I pressed my fingers hard into the top of my tummy just to sort of help the muscles get started, and then suddenly I COULDN’T BREATHE!”
I am giggling hysterically, “You knocked the wind out of yourself?”
“Yes, Mom! It was scary!”
“Oh my god . . . you crack me up.”
“I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t talk and I was trying to suck in air but all that happened was a noise like eeeeerrrhhhhhhhhkkkk sort of high and squeaky and then my eyes felt all bugged out and I was flailing around with my hands and I COULDN’T BREATHE!”
I cannot even talk I am laughing so hard.
Kallan crashes down onto the bed beside me, “It was horrific. I was like a fish, the tank suddenly emptied. Also, guess what? None of my friends even noticed that I was dying! We were all sitting at the same table, and they just kept talking like nothing was happening.” She shakes her head, “Useless, all of them.”
I’m still giggling.
Kallan turns to me, “Ask me what I learned at school today.”
I take a deep breath to quell my laughter, “Kallan, what did you learn at school today?”
She rolls to sitting, “I’m so glad you asked! I learned this new clapping snapping rhyming game! Sit up so you can play it with me!”
I sigh and lean to put my book on the nightstand, “Seriously, babe. It’s like you have some sort of high-voltage allergic response to being asked to be quiet.”
She starts clapping and snapping and singing and rhyming. I do my best to keep up, and then she suddenly passes the game’s conversational ball to me, “OK, now what rhymes with Venus? Go.”
Wait . . . what?
I pretend to catch an invisible ball hard against my tummy so that the wind is knocked out of me, and I roll in false unbreathing agony, “Eeeeerrrhhhhhhhhkkkk.”
And then we both laugh until we cannot breathe.
This girl kills me.
MOTHER, WHAT DID I TELL YOU OF FRENCH MAJ’S REQUIREMENTS? BE QUIET UP THERE! FRENCH MAJ IS TRYING TO SUCK IN A LANGUAGE DOWN HERE! FRENCH MAJ DEMANDS SILENCE OF THE ABSOLUTE SORT!
French Maj is scary.
Kallan looks at me and whispers, “Ca-cahw!”
I may never breathe again.