It donned on me last week sometime; I was feeling too much irritation with Lily. She was hearing too much of my grouchy voice. I was not seeing enough of her wonder and goodness. We were out of sync. During some quiet time over the weekend, I knew I needed to slow down and pull back and zero in on loving her - in ways that she would recognize and respond to.
Instead of telling her it was time for a nap, I told her I wanted to read her some stories and made sure I carved out time for several. Never a half-wit, she still knew that meant it was time for a rest, but she was much more cooperative and sweet about snuggling down.
I looked at her more earnestly and tried to listen to all of her narrations from the back seat when we were driving around town. I yielded to her preferences - especially on things of little consequence like the state of her hair or the outfit she had concocted or the song we would listen to in the car. I hugged her more, and longer, and told her how good and bright she is.
After we helped in Henry's class on Wednesday I told her there was a little cafe I'd really been wanting to try for lunch and asked if she'd have a date with me. She was thrilled! We had a fun time doodling on the tabletop and enjoying our sandwiches. I let her get a lemonade and french fries (two of her favorites) and let her dip her grilled cheese in my soup. We shared everything we ordered; I felt thankful and hopeful for the sharing that might happen over lunch in ten years.
When I made bread, I asked if she'd be my helper. She was so happy to be involved in the process. She pushed the buttons to set the timer, she dumped and scraped and stirred. And rehearsed all the steps to me as they approached..."and next we're gonna add the weast."
"the yeast?" I asked for clarification.
"Oh yeah, that's what I meant. The yeast. Yeast is kinda weird, but it kinda smells good, huh?"
She came with me on Henry's class field trip today. I loved sitting by her on the bus, running my hands through her hair (realizing it sorely needed to be washed), watching her watch the world go by out the bumpy window, seeing her face light up when we drove right by the little cafe where we'd lunched the day before..."Hey! There's that tiny cafe where we ate lunch, Mom!"
On the way home from the field trip, she fell asleep on my shoulder. I wrapped my arms around her and brushed her wild hair away from her face and kissed her forehead and cheeks 'til every last soul was off that bus and we couldn't stay cozy any longer. In fifteen seconds she was wide awake - skipping across the schoolyard, hollering back to me "don't stop on a cwack or yah gonna bwake yah back!"