Our morning is filled with violin music- Musette, Havana Dream, Gypsy Fiddle. P finds a small unused violin in my closet and practices by herself behind a closed door. J dresses in polka dots, pulls purple socks high over her knees and asks for two buns in her hair “so that even my hair is dots”. The girls put peanut butter and colourful sprinkles in their oatmeal, forget to brush their teeth. We walk to school under a grey sky, droplets of water collecting on my glasses, in our hair.

M plays soccer after school, a red nylon vest sliding off her shoulders. The laces of her cleats are untied. I resist the urge to run out and tie them for her, to remind her to drink water. J tells me I clap too loudly and shouldn’t cheer so much. I cheer anyway. M runs hard, loses the ball to a fifth grade boy, beams at us across the grass.

A brown hadada ibis struts across the lawn. Its wings are turquoise, shimmering. It pecks at the grass with its preposterous beak, watches me with a round leery eye. I remember when M was two and stood at the back door talking to the ibises, loud, screeching. They answered her with their caws just like she assumed they would.

P carries a small gold journal, hangs binoculars around her neck, goes on her own field trip. She walks barefoot down the dirt path. When she spots birds she stops, takes notes with a sharpie marker. An askari in a crisp black uniform asks if he can try her binoculars, warns her about snakes in termite holes, says the sacred ibis might bite her. She nods, unafraid, climbs to a platform in the trees, and scans the valley, chattering with imaginary friends.

Today we argue. About new cars, about where to sit at the dinner table, about how to argue. We each retreat to nurse our wounds, emerge cautiously from bedrooms and books, try again, argue again. Phil watches Star Wars with headphones, girls disappear out doors, out windows, under blankets. I go to bed early and wait for morning.

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