“Where’s my newly minted five-year-old?” I questioned when I arrived to pick up the girls.
“Is that like a peppermint, Mommy?” asked the Princess, running toward me with her biggest five-year-old smile.
“No, Sweetie.” I giggled. “That means that you’re new to being five. It’s only been a few days, right?”
“So ‘newly minted’ means that something, or in your case someone, is brand new. You haven’t been five for a long time yet.”
“Oh,” she responded, grabbing her coat and backpack so that we could leave.
She and the Pirate, as is their custom, raced each other down the street. Their matching coats and backpacks were a blur of powder blue and pink bouncing excitedly down the street. As I approached several seconds behind them, I could hear the argument.
“You pushed me, D.” the Princess screamed.
“I won,” said the Pirate, incensed by the implication that her win was invalidated.
“No, you didn’t. You can’t just push me like that.” I approached slowly hoping that she wouldn’t defer to me when she said, “Right, Mommy? Pushing is cheating, right?”
“Yes, it is.” I answered quickly, wanting the Princess to handle this conversation on her own.
“Right!” she replied, feeling vindicated. “You pushed, so you cheated. That means you didn’t win.”
“I won!” the Pirate yelled, pulling her eyebrows down as close to her nose as she could muster.
“Is pushing a good thing or a bad thing, D.?” I asked, trying to prevent the next Madoff from forming right before my eyes.
“It’s bad.” She replied matter-of-factly.
“Is cheating a good or bad thing to do.”
“It’s bad, Mommy.”
“Can you be a winner if you do something bad in a race?”
“No,” she responded after a knowing sigh.
“So did you win?”
“No. I’m sorry, Sister.” The Pirate reached out to hug her sister and plant an apologizing kiss on her forehead.
I unlocked and opened the door, ushering the future track and field Olympians through the door. The Pirate took off toward her bedroom to get knee-deep in toys she hadn’t seen since breakfast.
“Mommy?” The Princess began.
“You know what?”
“When I was a little girl, I used to push back, but that’s not nice because I know better because I’m five.”
“You’re absolutely right, Baby.”