“Hey, can I tell you something?”

At first, I learned to prepare for it. Later, I sometimes even looked forward to it. And now I’m going to miss it.

“Hi, Miss Kristine!” The tiny girl voice wafts through the backyard before I even have both feet on my deck. “Hey, can I tell you something?”

This is how the ritual has begun almost every day for the past two years, since a new family with a very precocious little lady moved in near me.

“Hello there, Miss Miriam. How are you today? And yes, you can tell me something,” is almost always my response—unless I’m on a call, in which case I wave and gesticulate to my phone (a fairly ineffective gesture with someone as persistent as Miss Miriam).

The “something” varies widely. Today, it was this: “See my new scooter? If I go like this (she says, popping a wheelie), I look like a motorcycle girl.”

“Why yes, you do look like a motorcycle girl. All you need is a leather jacket.”

“Miss KRISTINE, it’s too HOT to wear a leather jacket today. Don’t be silly.”

“Indeed it is, Miss Miriam. Indeed it is.”

Our conversations generally go in a similar direction. And her two tiny brothers generally pipe in to provide more color commentary.

“Did you get your hair cut, Miss Kristine?”

“Yes I did.”

“You look pretty. Can I tell you something? I want my haircut so I can only see out of one eye.”

I look askance at her.

“You know, the swoopy bangs that cover one eye and leave one eye out.”

“Ah, yes.”

“Don’t you want those, Miss Kristine?”

“I have a preference for seeing out of both eyes, Miss Miriam. Beauty has its limits. Eyesight is a keeper.”

She pondered that for a moment. “Well, you look prettier today than the other day.”

“That happens,” I say, thinking oh honey, just you wait. It happens more than you’d like. Glowing one day and like something the cat dragged in another.

“Can I tell you something? I was riding scooters with my neighbor Timmy this week and—you see this bandage?” She holds up her elbow with a super-size bandage on it. “Well, that is covering a HOLE in my arm. A HOLE. Because when I ride scooters with Timmy, I ride FAST. Why do you think I’m so clumsy? I fell twice.”

“I don’t think you’re clumsy. Reframe it. You’re adventurous,” I tell her.

More pondering on her end. “I think you’re right,” she says. “Because there was a lot of BLOOD. And adventurers get bloody, don’t you think?”

Being a Pirate Mom, I had to agree with her assessment. Usually some blood involved in adventuring.

Anthony and Nicholas, her brothers, nod solemnly. Blood earns brotherly respect.

I won’t go on (oh, I could write PAGES) about our conversation—you get the gist of it. So here’s the plot twist: Miss Miriam & company are moving soon. To a new house in a new neighborhood far from mine. And it’s not for happy reasons. Her parents, both restaurant servers, have hit hard times because of the pandemic. Despite working for a very popular, good restaurant nearby, business is down enough to make the mortgage too much to handle. And they don’t anticipate this autumn and winter being any better.

The thing about it—if we’re in true confession mode (and it’s Friday Happy Hour, so why not?)—is that sometimes I’d get annoyed with the inability NOT to engage in my own backyard. Sometimes, I just wanted time to read or visit with a friend or think—and not to get pulled into stories or sibling dramas.

Understandable, right? But now a little bit sad, in hindsight.

On the Fourth of July, Miriam’s mother sang with her band in a little concert on their back deck. They put on quite a show, which my friends and I enjoyed from my deck. I ran down to say hello and when I came back to my own yard, a friend’s husband was grinning from ear to ear. “What gives?” I asked him. “You and that little girl,” he said. “When you were bending down to talk to her and then when you both walked away—she could be the daughter you never had. She even walks like you.”

As I see her careen wildly around the yard on her scooter, perhaps we even scooter alike, Miss Miriam and me.

Roughly a year ago, I emptied my garage of a million boy things. My sons are now old enough that the mega water guns, the plethora of basketballs and footballs, and the frisbees were gathering dust. Miriam and her brothers were happy to cart it all to their house. And I’ve watched this summer as kids who really didn’t have a lot to play with were having a ball with someone else’s castoffs. They didn’t care. And it really made me happy to see those things bring joy again—to hear the shouts and screams. The inevitable fights as someone blasts someone else in the eye with water (perhaps a reason to consider Miss Miriam’s desired hairdo).

Hey, can I tell you something?

Truth be told, I’ll miss the kinds of erratic, rambling conversations that have filled the past two years. There. I said it.

But just today, I gave Miriam and her merry band of brothers some seeds from the balloon flowers in my yard. I told her she could plant them at the new house and take a little bit of her old neighborhood with her. I hope she sees them and remembers us fondly.

Now begone with you. Give me some space in my virtual backyard to ponder leather jackets, potential new hairstyles and adventures that don’t have to involve blood. I think Miss Miriam might be on to something.


50 Comments Add yours

  1. Dale says:

    How the hell did I miss this gem of a post? Thanks for linking it in your post a year and 11 days later 😉

    1. candidkay says:

      And here’s a sign of age–I thought, surely it can’t have been a year already–but it HAS been. Geez, where has the time gone?

      1. Dale says:

        Blink of an eye, my friend. Poof! Just like that!

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    What a touching story. Time passes quickly and you’ve cleverly butterfly-netted a little relationship that was special. I love the gift of seeds which may occasionally mean something to that little one as she grows up. Let’s hope so.

    1. candidkay says:

      Hi there, Roy! Happy Monday! It sure is a special little relationship. And I do hope those seeds make it to her new home and into the ground. But I’m not placing great odds on that:).

  3. Amy says:

    You each were lucky to have the other as a special friend and neighbor. I so hope you’ll have a chance to see Miriam again one day, and she you! Thank you for making me smile straight from my heart…. xo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Amy! We were lucky:). And she hasn’t left yet so I’m still being regaled with tales. The other day, it was showing me a newfound treasure–a Ford logo that had dropped off of a car:). And oh, the joy she found in that . . .

  4. This was so sweet, Kristine. I love your writing.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! I appreciate it:).

  5. aprilgarner says:

    This got me all teary-eyed. And it reminded me to appreciate my own two boys, now 9 and 12 years old. The garage won’t be full of soccer balls and bug boxes forever. Good luck to Miss Miriam, wherever her adventures take her.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes! Enjoy those boys and their antics now. It’s a cliche but it goes by SO FAST. And I miss the clamor of boys in the yard making mud lakes and fighting over whose turn it is:).

  6. The first thing I thought was that I’d find it annoying not being able to enjoy my back yard without interruption, but I suspect that you have given that little girl something wonderful during the time she’s been there and I can imagine that the peace will now be a little forlorn…

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m dreading it, to be honest:). Tonight, we had another wonderful convo in which she was showing me her new treasure (a Ford logo from a car) and quizzing me on why I was wearing sleeves. She keeps me hopping:).

  7. wgburke says:

    This was a nice story. Thanks.


    1. candidkay says:

      Glad you liked it, Bill! And I hope all is well with you!

  8. nimslake says:

    Such joy in your neighbor. So sad to see her go. Her little ramblings will be a keeper. Wishing you well on your little Muses injection of adventure.

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes, she goes from joy to stormy emotions in two seconds flat😂. She’s a character!

  9. Masha says:

    Ohhhh I loved this bittersweet lovely story, as a matter of fact I was cracking up while reading the first half of it. Well, things are always changing but I think she will remember you for the rest of her life, and you her. xoxo

    1. Masha says:

      I forgot I also wanted to say how sad for the family, I feel sorry for them having to move, I know a lot of people are in that position. I’m praying that this ends soon.

    2. candidkay says:

      I loved both your comments, Masha:). It would be really sweet if she didremember me. I am certain I will remember her because she is such a character. And yes, I feel bad for her parents. They work really hard!

  10. Jan Wilberg says:

    When she is grown with kids of her own, she will tell them about you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Jan. Of all the comments, that one brought a tear to my eye. I hadn’t even thought of that. I thought I’d fade into the ether of her memory. But wouldn’t that be cool? To be remembered. Thank you:).

      1. Jan Wilberg says:

        When I was 5, there was a WWI vet who lived across the street. I maybe talked to him 4 or 5 times. He would give me rhubarb to take home to my mother. Sweet gentleman – tall, bald, always in his garden. I don’t remember his name but I remember him. So kind.

  11. what an interesting, lovely, bittersweet post, K. Maybe one day you’ll see Miss Miriam again. When we moved here, my ‘best friend’ in the neighborhood was a 4 year old boy. We sat on the front lawn in summer and talked about 4 year old things. Now, he is a lot older and our chats are more grown-up, as befits his august years, of course.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Cynthia, I love that your chats continue! And if you can get into the right mindset, talking about the things that little children want to talk about is really delightful. I sometimes think God sent her along to get me out of my “all work, all the time“ mode😊.

      1. I bet. Our childhood can sometimes seem like a far away planet. When I look at small things (esp. in Nature) with awe and wonder, I think I regain a bit of that childhood magic.

  12. Robin says:

    I know this and/both feeling really well. It’s probably a theme in life, but much more noticeable to me since the pandemic. Miss Miriam sounds like a delightful little girl who could teach us all a lesson about adventuring. I’m sorry for her family, having to move because of the hard times we’re living in. That’s a plot twist I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I wish more of these stories were being told. Thank you for telling Miss Miriam’s.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for reading and your thoughtful comments! I always enjoy hearing from you. And you’re right. Stories like her family’s are not really being told.

  13. pirootb says:

    I can relate to your feelings. When I used to take evening walks in my neighborhood, many kids would come out and play. I made friends with a lot of them. But now kids do not come out and I also do not go for evening walks….I have switched to very early morning walks when the streets are deserted. I often think in all these months these kids would grow up a lot and when I see them again, they will be completely different people. I am missing out on some very delightful parts of their childhood.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, that is too bad! I love it when Bailey and I walk around the neighborhood and she gets to say hello to all her little friends and all her elderly friends. I think we enjoy it as much as they do.

  14. Jaya says:

    I know just how you feel! We too had a neighbourette whose life was firmly intertwined with ours. The joy she gave me! But they moved, she grew up, we meet only once in a while. I have so many memories, she obviously doesnt have as many. But I’m glad we met when we did.

    1. candidkay says:

      I do believe people cross our paths for a reason. And I think this was meant to be a two-year crossing rather than the longer one that I thought it would be. But had I known that, I might have treated our time together differently. Isn’t it funny how us humans do that? We assume we know the link the road we’ll travel with any given person.

  15. Piano girl says:

    So precious! I’m sure she will miss you as well.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I hope so! I know it’s only been two years but it really feels like a bond. 😀

  16. It touched me dear lady, as only heartfelt words can do. Yes, she was a monster in drag because she hasn’t figured out the boy, girl stuff…but one of those fluffy cute ones 😂 🤣
    And I think it is going to get a little quiet in your ‘yard’. Maybe, just maybe you’ll have to give her an invite for an hour or two once a month…ok, every six months 😂 🤣

    1. candidkay says:

      Right? Maybe a tea party that last no more than an hour every few months :-). Because otherwise I think my eardrums would burst.

      1. lol…they don’t make many of those models do they. Or maybe someone snuck in and broke the mold 😂 🤣

  17. So bittersweet. I hope they come by and visit you after they get settled into their new place. Miriam sounds like a hoot. One thing I miss about living in suburbia is having closer relationships with neighbors. When I was growing up, I knew almost every family on our street and the tiny dead-end road near our house. Out here in the woods, we have plenty of privacy, but I don’t even know half the people on our street, and we’ve been here twenty years.

    1. candidkay says:

      I really do love my neighborhood. It is one of the saving graces of living out here. And while I do love the excitement of the city, rarely did I have these kind of relationships when I lived there.

  18. What a delightful story, Kristine. I think you might miss Miriam a little.

    1. candidkay says:

      You think? 😉👍🏻

  19. Miriam sounds like a wonderful neighbor, at least in small doses. I enjoyed your musings Ms. Kristine. 🙂 Enjoy your new adventures…

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! And you were right-dosing is important :-). But I love her pure unbridled enthusiasm.

  20. That’s one of the most wonderful things about being around wide-eyed little ones: a refreshing of our perspective. I’d be sad if she moved away too. 😃

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?! She keeps my brain happing and me smiling😃.

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