“A-gry?” she flashes the sign as she speaks, swiftly reading the tone in my voice and the look that is passing over my tired, morning face. Only seconds earlier I had been joking with her as I helped her out of the yellow-flowered nightgown. I told her the purple pants were too big and she needed to make another choice. Her choice- shorts- on this crisp fall day. Indeed these striped shorts are smaller than the purple pants. But that wasn’t what I meant when I told her to choose again. My impatience grows in proportion to that bird perch of a lip jutting out in rejection of my criticism. Now as the time to leave grows closer I realize we are no more ready for the day than we were 30 minutes earlier and my temper leaches out of me.
“Yes. Sorry, baby. Momma felt angry. I didn’t mean to raise my voice.” I apologize when life has again gotten the better of me and I snap. Just like I expect them to do the same. Patience is the key to happiness in this home and family. Yet that key is often just as lost as my house and car keys. Sometimes we apologize because we have wronged another and sometimes it is because we are sorry for the other person’s trouble. How to be kind to one another is an ongoing practice for all of us, not just the children. The fact that we have more to do than time to do it in a given day, week, month or season will completely and suddenly overwhelm me. The meta-list of to-do lists that pile up and clutter our countertops. Our good intentions re-prioritized on a daily basis. Yet, if we wait to catch up, to move on, we get stuck. These children they understand that our lives are busy. They revel in that most days. They expect it.
The sensitivity and adaptability they display gets me every time. Just as it angers me when they ignore and talk back to me. Each day there is both. I’m equally delighted and surprised when they truly see what is happening and name it. That quick second of my feelings being heard, and coming from the child that the doctors and experts would all say is not capable, that second of my day- it makes me grateful. Grateful that instead of being wrapped up in the stereotypes and misnomer of who she might be, I get to bear witness to the reality of who she is actually becoming.
We hug and she runs to her room to grab yet another pair of purple pants. Today is her field trip with her class and she is so very excited to take the bus to the firehouse with her pals. Excited enough that she easily forgives me and pulls out another pair of purple pants and patiently waits for me to work the stretchy fabric over her heel.
The spot where she gets stuck each day. Where often we both get stuck.
She stands and places her small hands on my shoulder while balancing her tiny foot so I can pull up the legging for her. She helping me as I help her. Once they are up she leans down into my face softly chanting, “My momma.” and hugs my neck. Eager for just a bit more of love before heading out into the day I ask, “Kiss?” “Ki” she confirms smacking her lips on mine and turning to run top speed down the hall after Zuzu.