Such sweetness, dripping from face so pure and sin-stained, this ocean wash of apology and born this way. Her bare feet against vintage linoleum, toes curled against reprimand - not understanding - not grasping - what is this wave of rebuke? She knows no other, can't catch the way it breaks me, would heal it with a kiss but doesn't see that in this moment a kiss would be truth.
And it doesn't even matter - the crime that brought us here - the dumping of the pieces so carefully separate upon the blue mat, chaos brought to my order.
"I didn't do dat."
And she wears the lie like an easy language and I don't understand the learning - the nature of it. She does it with no concept of truth. I walk her through the gathering - the gleaning of jigsaw spoils.
She counts pink pieces..."One, two, fwee, fowo, fieve..."
"It's not about the mess, baby, I don't care about the mess. I care that you lied."
There is a rending of tape and cardboard - not ten minutes from kitchen teaching - seams weakened from multiple buildings, now rent separate and Toronto skyline half-formed upon the floor made homeless. Tape evidence upon Saturday morning pajamas.
"Did you rip my box, Noa?"
"I didn't do dat."
I gather her. Carry her up to her bed and perch her on it's edge. "I don't care that you broke the box."
"O-tay." But she can barely speak for heaving chest and spilling tears.
"We need to always tell the truth."
"Do you know what truth is?"
She squeezes against my neck. I feel her sadness in it's wetness upon my shoulder.
"Truth is saying what is real, no matter what."
And I leave her to catch the meaning, there beside her pillow dressed in Dora and the baby dolls in the little white cradle. "When you can say what's real and tell me you're sorry, you may come downstairs."
Her feet upon the stairs, whispers of regret. One step. Two step. I meet her at the base. Her head capped with plastic tiara - a halo of the goodness she found within herself as she cried off my reproach.
I bend to her height, to where the world is huge, and her eyes are shinny. "Do you have something to say to me?"
Arms curl around my neck, breath of Froot Loops, embrace of contrition. "I sowy, Mommy."
"Why are you sorry?"
"I sowy I bwoke da box."
"I love you."
"I luv you too, Mommy. So much!"
She takes back her hug, spreads it out to hold the world. "Dat much."
"To the moon and back?"
"Yeah! To da moon and back!"