For several weeks, Ingrid reminded us she would be “turning double-digits” soon. Her days in single-digit land were numbered — the end of an era.

We practiced spelling “diez” in Spanish, instead of “nueve.”

Once, I took the girls to a park. They all assembled with friends in chatty groups. One lay in the grass, one cuddled near the slide, and another cradled in the swing. I couldn’t find Ingrid. I called to one of the girls to ask where she was.

For answer, Ingrid dropped from a tree, followed by a couple of boys also dropping from the tree, and sped across the playground.

That explains Ingrid.

I check her neck for ticks. I shake my head in disbelief at the bruises and scrapes and cuts on her legs. I buy extra jeans because she wears them out. I throw away shoes instead of passing them to Dagne — they are too “Ingri-fied.”

For her birthday, she requested a day with her dad.

“I want to hunt and fish and hang out around a campfire with Dad,” she said. “We can eat sardines and beans from the can.”

A girl after her father’s heart. They did just that.

Our friends showed up at her volleyball tournament with her birthday present — several pieces of chicken that she could tear at with her teeth and greasy hands while she bossed kids around.

Of the four girls, she’s the most like me. I remember “hanging out with Dad.” When he worked on the car, I handed him the tools he needed. I built a fence by his side. I played soccer with him.

I chose boys for companions because we liked the same activities.

I argued, I talked back, and I had a quick temper. So does she.

I experience meltdowns when tired.

Ditto for Ingrid.

I picture the girls and Ingrid like the puppies in Lady and the Tramp. The three lovely, lady-like puppies sit in a row and say, “Yes, Mr. Trusty” … but the little Tramp tears across the carpet and attacks Scottie’s sweater.

She’s double-digits now. These moments won’t last forever. Soon, she’ll be an engineer, or something like it. I’m going to miss the little girl in those single-digit days.

 

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