Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 7, 2003

Oh, to be 10 again!

My 10-year-old daughter Katie and her cousin Larisa - who is also 10 - have more energy between the two of them than the rest of our family members put together.

They are still girls - unlike their older sisters who are well on the road to womanhood. And they retain a girlish enthusiasm for life - excited about almost everything and not particularly caring what others think.

In their five weeks together this summer, they swam, made Independence Day items out of red, white and blue pipe cleaners, played board and Nintendo games, designed amusement parks, read the latest Harry Potter book, played detective, washed dishes, set up elaborate castles with Legos, folded laundry, gave each other advice on what school clothes and supplies to buy and did too many other things to list.

When they swam, they weren't worried about whether their neon blue and green suits fit just right or whether they were tan. They just jumped into the water, paddled around, did underwater somersaults, got out of the pool and jumped right back in - no fuss, just pure unadulterated fun.

They were content for hours in the worlds they created.

One day, they were artists, painting plain paper napkins with water colors and selling them to their Grandma, my sister and me - or anyone else who happened to be there and who had a few cents to spare. Another day they were detectives with all the paraphernalia necessary for that job - passports, flashlights, badges and note pads to record clues.

And yet another day they created elaborate houses out of the living room cushions - even planting a garden on the carpet with rows of red, blue, purple, orange, green and pink markers representing tomatoes, plums, grapes, melons, lettuce and watermelon.

On other days, the cushions alternately became horses, slides or big rocks to protect them from the hot lava they imagined to be on the floor.

When I asked the two girls to do dishes, vacuum the van, fold the laundry, set the table for a meal, shred cheese for tacos or make their beds, they complained only briefly because I was interrupting their play, and then they scurried about doing those tasks with the same enthusiasm they had for everything else.

When we went shopping for school clothes for Katie, the girls were confident of what colors and styles went together. My sister said they had that same confidence when Katie helped Larisa pick out her school clothes a few days before.

The girls were as bold in their choice of ice cream or shaved ice flavors as they were with everything else. Katie combined watermelon and raspberry and Larisa put peach and green apple together in their treats.

Their energy and enthusiasm made me happy - and sometimes wore me out.

One night about 10:30 when I was ready to hit the sack, Larisa looked at me and said, "Right now I'm zero percent tired and you're 106 percent tired, right, Aunt Gloria?"

I wanted to laugh, but I was too tired. Oh, to be 10 again!

Ten-year-old cousins Larisa Chambi, left, and Katie Vaughan
dress up and make homes for Mr. Dangles and Mr. Grins.

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