A few reminders:
Love Spanks prizes will be announced tomorrow, right here on governingana.wordpress.com. Yep! All of the wonderful Love Spanks prizes will be awarded to their lucky, randomly chosen new owners.
Today, because this is my sandbox and I can do whatever I want, I’d like to tell you a story of a little girl and an afternoon we spent together. For no other reason than because I want to.
My friend had not told her daughter that I would be visiting because said daughter copes extremely badly with disappointment. My friend only said, “Today you’ll get a surprise!”
Usually when I visit, the little girl bobbles at the window, waves at me, and rushes to the door. This time, there was no peering small head or scramble to open the door. Instead, the door opened and a little girl stared at me in shock and almost fear. Joy competed with dizziness, and after jumping into my arms for a hug and a kiss she raced away to scream to her daddy that I had arrived. Then she raced back to jump into my arms again, kissing me and clinging to me as if she would never let go. She tried to show me every single new thing in her home since the last time I visited, but she couldn’t finish showing me one item before interrupting herself to show me another. I suggested that we go to the park, and her head bobbed so fast that it was a blur. I asked her to go to the bathroom before I left, and instead of her usual protests that she “didn’t have to” (bathroom time cuts into play time, after all!) she flew to the bathroom. I brushed her hair until it shone, and instead of a protest (fixing hair cuts into play time, too) she plopped herself down immediately and chattered as I put her hair into two braided pigtails with a ribbon clip on one side.
“Daddy” was strictly forbidden to go to the park with us or join in any activity, and when it was time for her afternoon milk he was barely allowed to pour it into a glass. We skipped out the door, only for her to stand stock-still in the middle of the driveway. “Will we do fun things?” she asked. I said of course. She shook her head and explained carefully that we needed to do fun things at home. Puzzled, I offered to go back home instead of to the park. Braided pigtails flew in the air as she shook her head impatiently. We would do fun things at the park and at home. Understanding at last, I reassured her that we would play at the park but still have time left over to play with her toys at home. Delighted, she resumed her skipping. Skipping while holding a child’s hand…is there any greater pleasure?
Instead of simply crossing the street, little legs stretched across each white crosswalk line like the old Frogger game. Instead of striding from Point A to Point B, each twig, each leaf, and each piece of debris became an exciting discovery. “What’s that?” So confident that I must know the answers to everything. So certain that holding my hand and leaving her home would not threaten her safety.
A tree was most definitely a coconut tree, she told me. She was sure she had never had coconut milk because that was cow’s milk. (Still trying to figure out this one. I’m guessing she assumed that “coconut” was an adjective to describe a type of cow’s milk.)
“There’s the park!” she cried. We pattered into the strewn-wood-chip carpeting, and she scrambled up ladders and down slides. Wanted help to try the scary monkey bars but withdrew in fear, shaking her head. Proclaimed that she was “a bigger girl now” and didn’t need help. Where I used to first bodily heave her up ladders, then cup my hands around her like a body support, and then hold my hands next to but not actually touching her body…this time my role was to ooh and ahh at how big she had gotten and how well she managed on her own.
“We have to go home!” she declared, and when I asked in surprise if she were really sure, she smiled a slow, delicious smile. “Daddy said we don’t have to!” she announced, and she resumed her racing around the playground. Every once in a while, she returned for more hugs, more kisses, and more praise at how very wonderful she was.
It was a hard sell to bring her home once it started getting dark, but I remembered the magic words from earlier. “Do you want to paint?” The little head bobbed again, and a little hand shot out to grasp mine. We exclaimed at each leaf and tree and pine needle as we made our way home.
Once home, I was allowed to talk to “Daddy” for a scant few minutes before she had done enough “sharing”. “Let’s paint!” she cried, and we got out her paintbrushes, watercolor paper, and paint. “I use the blue and white,” she ordered. “You use the yellow and green.” Of course, within seconds her brush was sticky with paint while mine was still neat. “Let’s switch!” she demanded. “My paintbrush is clean, and now yours is dirty,” she informed me. She assigned me a patch of paper to paint, only to gerrymander painting-paper district lines so that my tidy spot of paper became hers while her blotchy, rippled wet paper became mine.
My friend came home, and frantic hugs were intermingled with insistent reminders that I was there but Mommy and Daddy were not allowed to paint. Just us. She was torn whether her parents should be allowed in the same room, but at that point I put my foot down. I came to talk to her mommy, too, I said. I was her mommy’s friend *and* her friend. The little girl’s skepticism was enormous. I might have had more luck convincing her that the monsters in her dreams were really Santa in disguise.
And every few minutes, she came to give a hug, a kiss, and “I love you.”
i became a little puddle of Ana, melted into oblivion into a happy thought-free state where I only knew that her shampoo and lotion and little-girl scent wafted breaths of home. Of love. Of happiness.
For the past two months, my friend said, the little girl had been asking for me. She waited not so patiently until she decided that she had waited long enough, and then she went on strike. Every question, every answer, and every discussion became a filibuster of “Where’s Ana? Did you write to Ana? Is Ana coming to my house today? Why isn’t she coming? Why didn’t you write?”
I try not to talk about children too much here because *cough* given the subject matter of my stories it is a risk. Yet sometimes, there is a moment so beautiful that it spreads sunshine into formerly un-sunshiney places.