dancing with my shadow
My shadow is much larger than hers. She skips ahead of me with her stuffed bunny in hand, and I totter behind in my heels, her bright pink dance bag hanging from my arm.
Every Thursday we run past the same restaurants, down the same sidewalks, to get to her ballet class on time. “Chase me!” She always yells, and I do, without hesitation, no matter how tired my body is.
As our shadows make their way down the street, I’m aware of how much time has passed. We’ve been doing this for months. The first time I took her to dance was in sunshine. And then their were the long months of winter, when my body was heavy, and the rain beat down on us as we ran down the street, water seeping into my shoes and crawling up my jeans.
It was a lot harder then. Everything was. The kids were cruel, the weather was cold, and I had yet to find my stride on the sidewalks of Paris.
It’s a little easier now. I can handle the outbursts, the arguments, and the occasional rudeness thrown my way. I can make them laugh. I can make meals that everyone will enjoy, even if it means making three main dishes for one dinner. I can sit up half way through my meal and cook something else for a fussy eater without cursing under my breath. I can carry two knapsacks, a purse, and a bag of cookies up seven flights of stairs without breaking a sweat when the elevator is broken (again).
It was almost a year ago when I first met the family. When I walked up those same seven flights, with raw nerves and high hopes, to pause before I knocked on their door. They served me champagne and the kids jumped on their beds. I was more optimistic and much less experienced.
Time is passing. I hope the next au pair that comes along is strong, preferably stronger than I am. I hope she has patience with the boy when he throws a fit. I hope she rubs his back and makes him laugh in the end. I hope she can handle the young girl's mood swings without taking them personally.
I can’t believe that come September, I won’t be chasing after little kids in Paris anymore, but chasing my own shadow as I race to campus from my apartment in downtown Toronto.
I'll miss chasing shadows smaller than mine in the same way that I'll miss the Eiffel tower. It's all apart of my life here, and with time passing so quickly, I'm already looking back on it.