Today’s dinner ends with Rio running out of the room in a rage because we did not serve burritos with orange cheese, and running back in a few minutes later holding her arm straight out next to her face.

“Look, Mom! Look! What am I?”

“I dunno. Hurt?”

“No! I’m an elephant!”

She waves her arm/trunk about a little more and then suddenly leaps back and becomes a tiger. Hands up like claws, growly growly growl.

Martin and I laugh and applaud. Serena stares at us with a cautious, hopeful, curious look. She raises both hands to her face, turns the palms outward and curls the fingers. They look more like flowers than claws.

“Rar. Rar! Rar?” she says tenatively.

She is the smallest, cutest tiger I never imagined.

Serena has never, to my knowledge, pretended to be anything other than a little girl before. After being a tiny, awkward tiger, she followed her sister in being a tiny awkward kitten, and a tiny awkward dog, and a tiny awkward penguin. But every once in awhile she’d stand up, eyes gleaming, raise those little flower-claws and chirp, “Rar!” in her tiny, cute voice.

Tomorrow I will read Tiger Flower to her. And she will probably love it, because she’s not a baby anymore. She’s a very small girl, who can pretend to be a tiger.

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