The children have already been put to bed when my daughter comes to the balcony in tears, “I feel all alone.” With her this happens once in a while. I ask her why she is feeling this way. Her answer makes a kind of sense, “When I can’t see anybody then I miss people.”
Since she only pulls this out every six months or so we listen. We have a plan for dealing. Usually she gets to lay down in her brother’s bed for a little bit. She will curl up at the foot of the bed or lay down on the floor and play for a while. She may or may not fall asleep before her dad or I carry her off to her own bed. This has always worked in the past and tonight we talk her into it again.
Her brother is a harder sell. He says maybe in six days she can sleep in his bed. She starts bawling again. I tell him that she needs the time with him right now. She’s sad and lonely. He says maybe if she asks him two days from now that would be ok. I roll my eyes and then remember that that is where he gets his particular gift.
He looks at her and then agrees that it would be fine after all. They walk off together. I hope the issue is resolved. I am tired and feel that I have done a sixty percent job of mothering the situation. After all, no one is crying, everyone is in bed and I am comfortably relaxed for the evening.
When I finally do make it upstairs, I check in on my son’s room. The two of them are in bed. My son is plastered against the wall sound asleep. My daughter is wrapped in her blanket, clutching a purse, for some reason. Her eyes are shut tight but I know she is faking and I love that she is trying so hard to be a good girl and be asleep. I also love that she’s not bothering her brother, chit chatting away as she normally does under the same circumstances.
I play along and whisper what a good girl she is for being sound asleep and how nice it is that she gets to go to her own bed now. She doesn’t protest as I carry her snugly in my arms all the way to her room. She manages to hang on to the little purse the whole time. I tuck her under the covers, purse and all, and kiss her cheek. She never once opens her eyes. I sit by her side for a minute thinking at some point she’ll pop open those big brown eyes and stop playing this little game. She never does.
I forget sometimes that she is only four. All day long she runs behind the big kids. The friends that hang around are older kids that came along with big brother. She plays the games they play. Even they forget she’s so young. Her speech and grown up manner have always kept pace. So at night, when she’s tucked in and looking a bit vulnerable, when I’m reminded that she’s still my little girl, I let her get away with extra hugs, playing her sleep games and tucking in with her big brother for an extra bit. After all, home will be the one place she can always be my little girl.