Tonight, I made my daughter cry.
I didn't mean to.
It wasn't the usual variant of crying due to being in trouble or not wanting to watch the same cartoon her sister did. It was because I told her a story.
Every night I tell my girls a "head story." This tradition began long ago with my own father. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of him, head supported by a faithful stuffed purple pig, lying with us in front of the old wood stove. A time appropriately dubbed, "Purple Pig Time."
For my kids it began when we were in Tonga for the summer with my husband. He was working on what he has found to be the oldest site in Tonga. I was pregnant, sick. Lala was 18 months old, picking shells on the beach, and sleeping in a playpen at the end of our bed.
Every night I would lie down with her until she fell asleep. I was so ill I couldn't always snuggle with her, so I would put her in the playpen and start talking to her. I told her stories of her Nanny's cat, Spook, who would hide from her and she would have to find him, gaining clues to his whereabouts from various talking animals.
Spook always ended up asleep in her bed, right where she left him.
She loved those stories. And, a tradition began.
Now, it is our favorite time of the day. Sure, sometimes I am tired and can't think of a new story to tell or I am irritated and not in the mood. But, it usually makes me feel better and it has become a fantastic way to end the day.
Tonight, not so much. I told them a story, as usual.
I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let my mind and the day's events guide my thoughts. These "head stories" always involve Lala and Little Em in various adventures, often involving fairies in the woods, saving animals, or going to the moon.
Tonight, I saw them in my head grown up, and so the story started.
In the story, the girls were living together while going to school. Lala was attending astronaut school and Little Em was training to be a chicken farmer. One evening as they went for their nightly walk, they reminisced about their childhood. The sun was setting, bright and orange. Lala remarked that she missed being a child and Little Em concurred. As they spoke a shooting star glanced past the setting sun.
As everyone knows, if you make a wish upon a falling star at sunset, your wish will come true for one week.
Their clothes too big, dragging on the sidewalk, they ran home to call me. The girls laughed as I told them how their grownup selves didn't like it that their mom had to again help them put on their clothes or wipe their bums.
In the story, their mom was so happy to have them back.
And I started to tear up a little.
The story ended with the little girls becoming big again on the 7th night at sunset. Back to their grownup lives, promising to see their mother more.
Little Em started to cry. "I don't want to grow up! I'm going to live with you forever!"
It took awhile to calm her down and convince her she had many little girls years left. I told her she could live with me forever.
This story was in me, waiting and sad about the girls getting older.
Sad there are seldom little fingers under the door these days. Sad that I get irritated sometimes when one of them tries to climb into bed with me in the middle of the night to cuddle, because I am tired and want to sleep. Some day, I will have had enough sleep and will regret not throwing back the covers and letting them in.
Photo Credit: suckamc.
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