For the past five years, Mazzy and Mike have been doing this thing called “Upside Down Mazzy.” Whenever Mike goes to throw out the garbage, which is down a chute in the hallway outside our apartment, Mazzy runs out after him.

Then, on their way back in, Mike always yells from the hallway, “Mommy! Guess what I found outside! It’s an Upside Down Mazzy!” and then he waltzes in the front door with Mazzy thrown over his shoulder upside down.

“An upside down Mazzy?!” I play along incredulously. “What was an Upside Down Mazzy doing out in the hallway?”

“I don’t know! It was next to the garbage chute. I guess someone was going to throw her out!”

“Good thing you found her! You wouldn’t want anyone to throw out a perfectly good Upside Down Mazzy!”

We always go back and forth a bit with Mazzy grinning ear to ear, until eventually the game is over and Mike puts Mazzy back down on the floor.

“Oh! Right Side-up Mazzy is back. Thank god. I thought Upside Down Mazzy had replaced her for good!”

This happens pretty much every time Mike takes out the garbage, so roughly 3-4 times a week for the past five years. Mazzy loves it obviously and it’s her who initiates the game by running after Mike into the hallway. I never really thought about what her interpretation of the game was except that it’s fun to be upside down.

Then, last week, Mazzy said something that gave me some insight into her still very young brain.

For whatever reason, it had been a few months since Upside Down Mazzy had made an appearance, so on this particular occasion, Mike said, “Mommy! Look what I found in the hallway! It’s an Upside Down Mazzy! It’s been a long time since I found one of those!”

“An Upside Down Mazzy? Really? I thought we had seen the last of her!”

Then Mike put Mazzy down and she came over to sit next to me in the living room. After a few beats, she turned to me very seriously.

“Mom. I have a secret to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“Do you know that Upside Down Mazzy and me are really the same person?”

I smiled. “Really?”

“It’s true. We’re the same person.” She smiled and nodded like she had been keeping the meaning of life to herself all this time and was finally ready to let me in.

It had never occurred to me that Mazzy really thought she was fooling anyone, but then again, we started this game before she could even walk.

I smiled bigger.

Then it was like Mazzy internalized my smile, replayed what she had just said, and suddenly the two-year-old inside her caught up with the six-year-old.

“You knew that all along, didn’t you?” she said slowly.

“What? Me? I had no idea!”

“You did, Mom. You knew it all along.”

I hugged her. I love when my big girl reminds me that she’s still my little baby.