I was biting into my egg salad sandwich when Corrigan told me the news: she couldn’t have a playdate with Mary for seven days. It was Monday. The two of them decided this on Sunday afternoon while stomping in the snow at Mary’s house.
Corrigan ate a few bite of blueberries with her fingers, which were turning blue.
“Use your fork, please,” I told her. She groaned and picked it up. I asked, “Why seven days?”
She put her hand to her mouth as if to whisper, as if we were in a crowded space and needed to keep this next bit of information top secret. “To make Ha-La-Loo go away,” she said.
“Ha-La-Loo is the wind.” She nodded and looked pleased that she had let me in on her conspiracy. This wind must be a serious nemesis if these girls are willing to go seven days without a playdate. Mary’s parents are good friends who live down the street. They have three daughters like us. And our kids call each other nearly every day to play.
I refilled Corrigan’s glass with lemonade. I salted the top of my sandwich. We spoke about swimming and the letter X, two hot topics in preschool that morning. Then Corrigan said, “So, has it been seven days yet?”
It hadn’t even been twenty-four hours.
“To get to seven days, you should imagine yourself going to bed and waking up seven times,” I said. I hoped this comparison would help. Corrigan knows what seven looks like. Recently, she set out seven pieces of Captain Crunch cereal on the table. “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete,” she said, proud of her bilingual skills. She knows what a calendar is, but the concept of a week’s length is still abstract.
Not thirty minutes later, the phone rang. “Ahh. Hmm,” a young voice said, and I realized it was Mary. Usually her older sister is the one who calls and makes the plans, but this five-year-old is growing up.
Mary gathered her thoughts and said in a most polite tone, “I am wondering if Corrigan is available to play this afternoon.”
“Yes, she is. But weren’t you two going to wait for seven days to play together?” She doesn’t notice that I’m teasing.
“I know, but I really, really, really miss her and want to see her.”
“Does your dad know Corrigan’s coming?”
“Yep. He dialed for me.” She added, “Tell her to bring two stuffed animals and an animal newspaper.” And once again, I am stumped by five-year-old code.
Corrigan smiled when I told her she would be playing with Mary. Whatever promise of seven days they made, whatever their reasons, didn’t matter. Corrigan decided they would make an animal newspaper together. She grabbed her bears, Gem and Pink, bundled up in her winter gear, and walked the block to Mary’s house.