September 3, 2002

Egg

Last night Rachel talked on the phone with her nieces. The first thing Sydney asked was if Rachel and I are going to get married. Rachel said no, holding back tears. “We’ve decided to just be friends,” she said.

Sydney is almost six and, although precocious, doesn’t understand certain things.

“Is Michael going to live at your apartment?”

“No, Sydney, we’re going to live in different apartments.”

“But you’re going to sleep over, right?”

“No, Sydney, we’re not going to sleep over anymore.”

Rachel tried various ways to explain what a breakup is, but the concept was new to Sydney and thus difficult.

A sudden memory: At a family dinner this past spring, Sydney asked if I was going to sleep at Rachel’s that night. I nodded and smiled, for Sydney is obsessed with sleeping arrangements. “I know what that means,” she leered, and for a moment I believed she did. “It means you’re going to wear her pajamas!”

Hannah got on the phone after Sydney. Hannah is three and half. She asked if Rachel wanted an egg.

“No, thanks, sweetie. I already ate.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, okay.”

It’s not clear if Hannah tried to squeeze bits of egg through the tiny holes in the mouthpiece or if she merely held some egg there for Rachel to absorb through the wire. Whichever was true, Rachel nearly lost it.

“Why, thank you, Hannah,” she said, making appreciative chewing sounds. “This egg is delicious.”