Genevieve: I missed you today, Mom.
(We are snuggling in bed, settling in before books and lights out.)
Me: I know….I missed you, too.
Genevieve: Where did you go that whole time?
Me: To San Francisco.
Genevieve: With a grown-up? Did you see the “Silver Guy?”
Me: Yes…I went with a friend. No…the Silver Guy was nowhere in sight.
(Gigi has a deep fear of the “Silver Guy,” a live sculpture man, painted in silver paint, who performs a robotic dance to music at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. When she hears that someone has made a jaunt to the city, Gigi will frequently ask after “The Silver Guy” and will also confirm that there is no chance in Hell that Silver Guy has followed the city traveler back home to Silicon Valley.)
Genevieve: I like it to be the same…when it’s only you and me.
Me: But you had Daddy here with you while I was gone. I saw you and Charlie in the backyard when I got home. Looked like you guys were having fun. You stayed away from the dog poop area, though, right?
Genevieve: Yes, Mom. No dog poop got on me. (pause) I like it when it’s you and me.
Me: I like it too. How about we do something special together tomorrow morning. Starbuck’s donut?
Genevieve: Yes. Okay.
Me: You know, nothing stays the same, Gigi. It can’t always be just you and I. That’s what makes life a little tricky…but it can make it fun…to do something different from what you did the day before. (pause) It’s hard not to miss people. Even though I’m a grown-up, I miss people all the time and sometimes I want things to stay the same too. But—
Genevieve:(interrupting) I was just telling you what I LIKE, Mommy. I know I can’t have it the way I want every time. I already know THAT!
(She sounds a little mad.)
(pause) I like it when you always come back. I know you go away but you come back. That makes me soooo happy…’cause I love you, Mommy.
Me: I love you too.
On the verge of crying, I busy my mind (and my tear ducts) by arranging the three “Fancy Nancy” books that G has chosen for our read. I stack them one, two, three (in order of my personal preference) into a neat pile before us on the bed. My little-not-yet-four-year-old — smart, sassy and sweet — snuggles into place by my right shoulder, fondling the edge of her green “blankie” between thumb and forefinger like she does. We’ve strategically arranged her “Dora” pillow (for her) and some of the extra lacy white decorative pillows (for me) into an expansive and supportive pillow-wall behind our backs and heads…We do this every night. This is the same. I take a deep breath of the apple shampoo that wafts up from my daughter’s damp hair. Her locks fall naturally in loose curls, like my own, but her curls are softer, angelic. Aren’t I the lucky one to be sharing this bedtime ritual with my youngest child for yet another evening. Aren’t I the lucky one! I open the Fancy Nancy and begin to read, strong in voice and heart.