Sunday, January 27, 2013


I think I just spent what might have been one of the sweetest half hours of my life just now.  Remember the heady times of young romance when you pillowed your head in someone's lap and looked up, thinking that life couldn't get better?  It does.

At 19 months, Esther sought me out to cuddle with me on the couch.  She is right at this cusp of doing things intentionally and responding to internal needs instinctively and this moment was such an obvious blend of those two motivations. 

She jabbered to me and she repeatedly got down from the couch and climbed up again, plopping herself into the crook of my left arm and against the side of my gigantic belly each time that she reached the summit.  I kissed her head and sighed a little as I squeezed her or stroked her arm.  At one point, she reached out for my hand and used it to rub her own head, so I pulled down her hood and scratched her head.  She leaned into it like a dog, writhing a little in pleasure.  We had communicated perfectly and she got exactly what she wanted.

Eventually, she dragged over her bucket of yegos and began bringing them up to the couch with her on some of her visits.  We did not cuddle as much at this point but she chattered to me as she built a tower of four-squares, pointing to each one and counting, "two, two, two, two, two."  Eventually, she stayed at ground level and used the couch as a play surface, continuing to build with the yegos and retrieving her stacking blocks to puzzle with, as well.  I turned on my audiobook and picked up my hand stitching quilt project and we stayed together quietly.  We talked occasionally and I retrieved pieces that fell to the back of the couch cushions so she wouldn't have to climb for them because they were out of reach. 

Eventually, she had trouble stacking a block on top of the others, got frustrated and threw them all away in three or four bouts.  I asked her if she was getting tired and she said hopefully, "Blanket?"  I agreed and carried her to her room, thinking we would sit in the rocking chair and read books before I put her down for a nap.  She kept trying to trick me into letting her down with her "fier" to go back and play and was clearly uninterested in books.  So, I laid her down in her bed and she did not protest, asking for her kitteh and beginning her self-soothing rhythm of making a loop out of the silky binding of her blanket with one hand while poking her index finger of the other hand through the gap to feel the softness.  I told her that I loved her, her papa loved her and that God loved her.  I reassured her that I would be there when she woke up so she didn't need to worry about anything as I turned off the light and wished her "nigh-nigh," as I closed the door behind me.

Life with my indomitable toddler is rarely this quiet.  She is usually overbearingly curious about what is in my hands or insistent that I play with her actively.  More often lately she spontaneously asks for things I don't want to give her like the iPad, cookies or cake only to fall to the floor bonelessly with a howl when I tell her not now.  I think she is poking and exploring me to figure out a pattern for when she can and can't have treats.

But these moments of quiet retreat are becoming more common, as well.  She might be a charismatic introvert, like her mother.  She might have a different reason to need the respite.  I am grateful for the huge responsibility of being her foil, her mirror, her shaper and her haven.  She makes that mantle easy to assume.

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