I’ve often written about my daughter’s extroverted nature. From her earliest days we could see her joy was in interaction with others, often exhausting my wife and I with her unquenchable thirst for talking, playing, and roughhousing when we really needed some away time. How cute were her first words and how many more followed that we couldn’t keep up. But now as she turns into a girl and begins to mature she is finding, to our great joy, the value of solitude.
It used to be a typical day with Child Harbat started with all-talk breakfast. I prefer to ease into the day like an old man wading into an icy-cold sea, while CH plunges in headfirst with a whoop. But to her credit she has learned I don’t talk much in the morning and she respects it, instead turning her attention to Number Two, getting him to smile, giggle, and coo, often neglecting her meal as she plays the part of court jester.
Following breakfast CH used to follow us around from room to room with a fusillade of questions and thoughts, a free-flowing poetry jam with a semi-captive audience. But now she often disappears, sometimes for hours. Where we used to be immediately suspicious of silence, often finding her in the bathroom transferring water from cups to bowls with a pool of ankle-deep water beneath her, now we find her captivated in a coloring project with markers strewn about her and sheets of finished drawings tossed aside like curls from a carpenter’s plane. Sometimes these bouts of individual creativity are accompanied by a running commentary where she is the narrator and God figure. Other times it is just attentive silence, her mind working on its own without twitching the jaw muscles.
Such I found her today, several hours after we’d put her down for quiet time. She only sleeps about a quarter of the time and today we’d figured she gone into a deep sleep, based on the library-like silence from her end of the hall. Nope. She’d set up some stuffed animals on the bed and each had a new name, backstory, and a dizzying schedule of outfit changes. When I asked if she wanted to come out with me on some errands she smiled and said she’d rather finish what she was doing. I know that feeling, to find such perfect joy in a task that time slips away and all other concerns like hunger and fatigue become motes of dust spinning away in an eddy of breath. She continued to play on her own for at least another hour, lost in the joy of individual play.