I am bent double tying the shoe laces, the chill air from the outside seeping in from the now open garage door. Pattu is outside, her pigtail flying in the wind, scootering as she calls it. Ammu waits impatiently for me to be done, her free leg, tapping away. Laddu sits next to her on the door step sliding one step at a time to her eventual destination of the grand old outdoors. I straighten up and scoop Ammu for her hug and kiss and let go. Her twin pigtails fly in the air as she goes gliding outside.

I look at my phone and realize they have a minute or two before I have to shoo them away to the bus stop. I stand in the slanting sun, a thin sweater providing inadequate warmth against the seasonal chill. Laddu runs away from me and toddles back. The girls are rushing back in even before I can ask them too. Their eyes are round and bright. “They are there! They are there!” Pattu exclaims of the other kids from the neighborhood at the bus stop. They are away before I can reach them again. I follow, Laddu on my hip.

We watch as the kids swarm around the lone stop sign. They move away and to it like a swarm of birds, changing shape, mutating and converging at unlikely places. They are in the Oval, a grassy patch that is the focal point of our development. They scatter and gather. I watch, mesmerized. The neon orange tights the twins are wearing marking them in a sea of blues and grays. The bus roars around the bend, scattering the kids and lining them up by the stop sign. I watch them clamber, backpacks slung over their shoulders and out of breath from all the running. I stand and watch till they are a speck disappearing from view.

Each morning as I watch my daughters laugh and run and play before school, it warms me. In the five years leading to elementary school, I have not arranged play dates or forced friendships for them. They have always been a team, playing with and against each other. Pretending and making believe in only the way little kids can. To see them blossom, make friends, deal with less than optimal situations makes me proud. I am often tempted to intervene, to barge in and right the wrongs in their world. Yet I stay by the sidelines, watching and hoping I will never have to wade into the playing field.

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