My daughter is nine and doesn’t need me as much as she used to. It’s a good thing, this growing independence. Still, she will call out occasionally, and it warms my heart when I can go to her. Last night, or rather early this morning, around 4AM, she called out and I immediately jumped out and bed and stumbled to her room.
“Mommy, I can’t sleep. I keep trying but I just can’t,” she said.
“You want me to just sit with you for a while?”
And so I sat next to her. And waited.
“My eyelids are tired,” she said.
“Well, don’t try to keep them open. Let them close.”
“But the rest of me isn’t tired.”
“That’s okay,” I said. “Just close your eyes and try to think of things.”
She closed her eyes. “What things?”
I yawned. “Oh, I dunno. Think about a project you want to work on.” Her face scrunched and I could tell that wasn’t working. “Think about a magical animal.”
“What kind?” That softened her face a little, the idea of magic and animals.
“Oh…Think about what an animal would be like if you combined a cat and a bird.”
Her face re-scrunched. “Mommy. That would never happen. The cat half would try to eat the bird half. It’d be chaos. It’d never survive.”
“Ah,” I said. “Good point. Well then, just picture a cat with wings. That’d be cool.”
“Maybe,” she said.
We sat there for a while. The house ticked. It was dark. She reached for my hand in the dark and we held on for a bit.
“Do you think I could get up?” she asked.
I wanted to tell her “Can’t we just stay like this a little longer?” but instead I said “Sure, baby. We can get up.”
And we did.