‘you’re chubby for real’

This weekend, A. and I drove to New Jersey to see his family — his brother was in town from Chicago. We hung out with his parents, his brother, his best friend growing up, his aunt and uncle and cousins and their kids. I am especially fond of 4-year-old Isabella, who always takes a while to warm up to A. and me. She acts shy at first, like she doesn’t remember us, but once she relaxes, she follows the two of us around: “Will you play with me?”

Isabella has a round tummy, chubby cheeks, freckles on her nose and she says her “r’s” like “w’s.” And she’s incredibly precocious. This time, when she saw A. at A.’s parent’s house, she said, “Every time I see you, you change your hair so I don’t recognize you.”

On Saturday, we were in A.’s parent’s backyard and Isabella was pointing at every spot possible to sit: “Can I sit there?” she said as she pointed to a tree stump. “Can I sit there?” she said as she pointed to a bench. And then she started taking ice out of the cooler and putting chunks down A.’s shirt and giggling hysterically. A. played along and egged her on. At the end of the evening, Isabella fell asleep in A.’s mom’s arms as A.’s mom sang “Rock-A-Bye Baby” to her.

On Sunday, A. and I went over to his cousin’s to watch the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. During overtime, Isabella came over and asked if she could sit on my lap. “Only if you’re quiet and let me watch the game,” I said. Isabella sat on my lap, leaned against me and crossed her ankles like mine were crossed. “See?” she whispered. “I crossed my legs like yours.”

A. was sitting in the chair next to me. Isabella pointed at A., cupped her hand around her mouth and whispered in my ear: “He’s bald and chubby.” And then, in the next breathe, “Don’t tell him!” And then giggles. “He’s bald and chubby!” Giggles. “Don’t tell him!” Of course, I couldn’t help but giggle, too. Especially because A. is about as fit as a man can be. And nothing is sweeter than a 4-year-old giggling.

A few minutes later, Isabella padded off to go get push-pops (“What color do you want?” she asked me and A.) When she returned and handed us our push-pops, she stood at the edge of the recliner and started pushing on my arm with her finger. Then she grabbed the underside of my arm and looked at me with wide eyes and said, “You’re chubby for real!” And giggled.

It makes me laugh just thinking about it. How I love little kids’ honesty and lack of inhibition.

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