“Kk. Kk. Boo-K. Baby. Momma. Kk. Sssss.shhhh”
From the other side of the door I hear the Quail out in the hall running through her own version of speech practice by herself before the sun has even come up. Lately she is the first one up. You’ll hear her chattering, then a door open and she pads quietly around whispering her family’s names in the dark, looking to see who is up. Then she sits down and starts practicing sounds. Waiting. Knowing we’ll come out soon.
I roll over and switch off the alarm, squeezing past the sleeping baby wishing I had just stayed up after the 4:30 nursing session. The baby, she’s teething those cuspids and they are keeping more than just her awake despite our Motrin pre-attacks.
“Momma- my momma!” she cheers as I flip on the hall light, quickly shushing her.
“Baby sleep?” I nod and ask if she’s gone potty yet. She confidently tells me “Yeah” even as she looks away and I note the still closed bathroom door. I settle on the carpet beside her and she climbs into my lap putting her two small hands up to my cheeks and leaning in close while she whispers with a barely contained puppy-like wiggle- “Momma, momma, my momma.” We sit together her pleased, me exhausted while I weigh the pros and cons of the parenting books advice. Enjoy the moment or be consistent and send the rule-breaker back to bed for the next 15 minutes until the appointed 6am wake-up compromise.
Lovey enters the hall with us and asks if I’ve showered yet. I shake my head and start to rise.
Her tone is sharp. We go through versions of this tug-of-will daily now. What we have to do each day goes in to battle with each of our strong-minded children’s sense of free will. “Come on- it’s time for bite-bites. Go with Daddy. Momma did them last night. If you hurry I can get your toys out for you.”
“No. Play! Donuts!” She stands up stomping her feet ready to plant herself separate from us.
This is what we’ve worked for. What she’s worked for. The ability to tell us what she thinks. When she thinks it.
Most days she resists initially. She’s busy. She has sisters to boss. Kitchenware to cook with. Books to read and babydolls to shush. Eventually she sits down, enjoying the chewing motion on the pliable colored tools that have built her strength and confidence daily for years now. She blows into the whistle saying with her hands what she whispers, “Down” and the tone comes out low. “Loud!” as she grins and blows as hard as she can for the next round. I finish my shower and come back out to wake her sister and notice her flopping down. It’s going to be one of those days. One of those days where her will wins out over ours. And then we’ll try again the next day. Before the sun comes up, hopefully after 6am.