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I happened upon a new understanding last week at my son’s horse lessons. His teacher’s two small children came to watch mommy in action. A boy-4, and girl-3. Sandy blonde, both of them. Hazel eyed and confident as can be. I sat on the hanging swing, eying them behind sunglasses, pretending to be fully engaged in my sun-blurred computer screen.

Writing deadlines. Serious schedules I must keep between these chores of my life.

Oh, but I noticed them. Her son, kicked rocks then threw rocks and then looked as though he may try chewing rocks. He squatted to study grasshoppers, ran mad after them, then kicked more rocks. But not her. Oh no. Little miss was there to see her mommy, which she continually let daddy know, despite his warnings of her proximity to horse arena.

“Noooo, Daddy,” sweeping thin wisps from forehead, “I’mmm here to see my mommy wif horsies. You see tem? zere’s one, two, fee-four. I fink.” She transitioned dramatically from arena posts to designated daughter seat, while daddy tried vainly to define boundaries.

At one point, daddy left to keep 4-yr old son from running smack into electrically charged fencing. Little girl stayed put, though not really. Periodically, she rose from her seat, pretended fussing with something around her, then–ever so slightly– moved the seat closer to arena. She continued on this way, assuming she’s unnoticed, until finally I offer to help move the seat a safe distance from mommy and horses.

“Well,” she begins, “Tat is MY mommy. I’m here to watch her. I’m not moving.”

Ah-ha. I see.

For the rest of the lesson I watched 3-yr old girl’s every move. Her movements, her choice of words, her reactions to instruction and correction. I watched how she noticed details, her insistence on placement. I recognized– almost immediately– her hawk-like eyes, observing her mother’s every move.

That night as I tucked children into bed, saying prayers and kissing heads, I held my daughter with new understanding. Her strange eccentricities no longer looked so foreboding. Her tight control of every situation didn’t seem so choking. I think I may have even inwardly smiled as she fussed over some minor offense.

This understanding… the way of all daughters, not just my own.

Oh dear. I guess I am a daughter, too.