Unwrapped, unrolled the rug. Cut camellias from the squatter yard. Made the crudite tray, twice. Popped the popcorn, dressed it well. Put things away, wiped counters, swept. Greens to the bunnies. There is a sleepover birthday party happening right now, but I’m not in charge. I can hardly stand to be in the zone. So much goofy. So much chatter and bunch. A lot of small people I want to get to know, or care for, or who I am already attached to and want to protect. It’s just not that time of life. I can’t both be me and be in the mix … with them. Eleven! One sweet girl, close to my heart, who got the first evidence of her first cycle this very day. They are all over the map. Two of the ten-nearing-eleven-year-olds here are years out from that pivotal moment. “Close the door,” I say to them. “Write your name on your cup.” I know their names and I smile and ask them small, easy-to-answer questions. But I am just a shepard. I don’t speak sheep.