The cake is decorated,
Grandma M and Aunt Val arrive. The fold-up table stands. The table cloth is cast like a net. Bowls are set, pitchers are filled.
Now we wait for the little girl who will calmly take it in stride. The little girl who cares for her little brothers, who buys with her own money, books from the school book fair for both her grandma and great grandma. A little girl who makes thank-you notes, who openly admires her aunts, loves her uncles, who worries when her mom worries, who receives flowers from her dad. The little girl who is sometimes left out of her school-friend circle.
"Don't worry about those girls," I say, while we are delivering birthday party invitations to one of the scary ones who isn't always nice. "You already have enough people who love you dearly." I start listing all the relatives. Her safety net.
She roles her eyes and tolerates my advice because she takes us all for granted. Therein lies her confidence. Knowing we are safe, true, supportive and appreciative of her awkward stage, of her teeth preparing for braces, of her hair that should have been washed yesterday.
Taking for granted was pejorative until I saw it as Anni's safety net. That we, her family, are her one sure source of security in the age of fickle fifth grade girls, makes me proud and accepting of being her taken for granted. It's an honor.