A toddler’s memory

We were worried that Sophie might forget her father during their six-week separation. We underestimated Sophie. She regularly chats with me about things that happened more than a month ago. That time that she and her friend M took a bath together, and someone pooped in the tub? That was hilarious, in Sophie’s opinion, and deserves to be discussed every single time she sees the tub, even now, five weeks later.

So Sophie hasn’t stopped missing her dad. If anything, she misses him more. She’s getting more clingy the longer he’s away.

“Your birthday is on Saturday!” T told her.

“Birthday, then airplane.” Sophie replied. “Sophie airplane, Momma airplane.” That, to her, is far more interesting than any measly birthday. I have been telling her for weeks that the sunflower will bloom, and then she will have a birthday, then the flowers will bloom some more, and then we get in an airplane. It’s the best that I could think of, to tell a toddler the concept of “6 weeks.” Clearly, she has heard me. In her mind, her birthday has been demoted to simply the prerequisite for the airplane ride that will reunite her with her dad. I’m afraid that the two weeks after her birthday may be a tortuously long wait for her, because I have now raised her expectation of an airplane ride after her birthday.

Then she didn’t want to go to sleep last night. She wanted to sit in my lap, gazing at my computer’s new desktop background: a photo of Ben hiking. She wanted to know all about the special socks he’s wearing (gators), and the rocks, and the water. Last night, every time I put her in her crib, she cried and flung her blankie on the ground and then cried some more, asking for more milk, because the walk to the fridge got her close enough to the computer that she could then ask for more “Nighty-night Daddy” time. We tried all our tried-and-true bedtime routines. We tried from 7:30 pm to almost 9. Finally, I gave up and put her down in my own bed, where she happily took her Daddy’s half of the bed, snuggling up next to me, sleeping calmly the whole night through. Her daycare teacher warns me not to let this become a habit. It will be my doom, daycare teacher says. We’ll see what happens tonight. Sophie kicks and snores, Sophie wiggles perilously close to the bed’s-edge, Sophie holds my hand in the night, Sophie kicks my face. Sleeping with Soph did not give me a restful night, but at least it did get her to sleep. 

This morning, skyping her Dad, Sophie wanted to show him the pages of Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses that feature a daddy kissing his baby. She knows exactly which two pages of that book show the daddy. The book-daddy kisses his baby’s knees, so she held her knees up to the computer screen, nearly kicking it over, in her eagerness to let her daddy kiss her knees. The book-daddy has a button in his shirt-sleeve that fascinates Sophie. She focuses on that button in the midst of the whole lovely swirly Karen-Katz picture. She’s started calling it the Button Book. She wanted to see her own daddy’s buttons. Fortunately, he was wearing a button-down shirt, and I think that made her morning. She got so excited, she banged the board-book onto the computer, dislodging the letter T.

Two and a half more weeks of trying to reassure Sophie that we will, indeed, see her daddy soon. Two and a half more weeks until he can kiss her in person, not just through the skype video-phone. 

I think we will make it. 

This morning, my neck has a terrible crimp from co-sleeping with Sophie, assuaging her loneliness while enduring her night-kicking.

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3 responses to “A toddler’s memory

  1. amysilverman

    Beautiful post.

  2. Tracy

    Your post nearly brought me to tears! As for night-time, now may not be the time to switch her to a big-girl bed, but that would solve it. YOU could lay down with HER and then sneak away once she was asleep.

  3. bencycles

    I was looking at pictures of her the other night, too. I would say we must have been doing it at the same time, except there’s a 8h time difference…

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