Shedding a layer

The morning began with a shove - long legs burrowing, feet trampling warm sheets like ice in my cocoon.  Can I read to you?  I blink back yellow light as she opens a huge book, no pictures, and words fall on my ears.  A string of monotone in that raspy voice, the same it’s been since she first demanded MILK!  Only now it’s streaming vowels and consonants, moving, mixing, shuffling sounds to match the letters on the page. Back, back, back to sleep, until she needed me again to sound out concoctions of PH’s or OUGH’s that still elude her growing bank. 

How did this happen?  A little girl with a fat book in her lap?  Baby layers are all around her - peels on the floor.  Forever, it seemed the only moment Jane would pile in my lap was to hear a story.  Now this.  QUIET.  Words rounding and rising under her breath.   She doesn’t need me.  I want to shed tears, this milestone feels too big, but see the wonder in her eyes, delight in her voice.  As we drive through town, "Mommy does that say SHAW’S?  BAKERY?  Hmm, I knew it.”  Soft triumph, her feathers puff.  She’s strutting.  And singing proudly into the morning light.