Shoeboxes, straws, stickers, yarn and strings, the earnest work of crayons and markers and some glue, and what she has is a kingdom - with a main hall, a throne room, and more rooms beside - and the inhabitants are some of her favorite creatures.
She sets events to different melodies; she sings the words and melodies she knows, or fits new words to familiar tunes, or makes up the words and music on the fly, her favorite stuffed dog snuggled at her elbow.
"No I can do it." And for extra emphasis - "By myself."
I settle on the ends of sofas, curling up with a book or for some conversation or television. There's also the corner chair at the table, the seat tucked against the wall; I'm nestled against the table-edge and next to the poster with the woman and child walking through the poppy fields.
The fun of spelling out words with sticker letters. He places the 'o' too low relative to the other letters; it looks like the word is spilling down. So I tell him that now, when the word arrives at that 'o', he'll need to make his voice swoop down to a deep pitch ('ohhhhhh'). When he places an 'r' too high, I tell him that now the 'r' will sound like a high-pitched shivering bumblebee ('eeeerrrr').
She describes the delight of a cookie, a glass of milk, and a book. How she'll lay the cookie carefully on a napkin, slowly pour the milk, set them side by side on the table and spread the book open in front of them. And if there's an interruption - the phone ringing or someone calling her name - she doesn't mind so much, because she knows that the book, the cookie, and the milk will still be waiting on the table.
I wake up in a softly bright room, with a vase of sunflowers at the foot of my bed.