This afternoon when I swung by daycare to pick up Anna, she was waiting in her usual spot at the bottom of the stairs for me. She usually sits there, patiently looking through a book or playing with a doll while her babysitter feeds the littlest friend on the couch. When Anna sees me, she usually squeals and jumps up-- happy to have played with her friends but excited for our upcoming time together.
Today she threw her baby doll over her shoulder, slipped into her flip-flops like a skilled 16 year old heading to the beach, waved bye-bye to Kris, and marched out the door as she casually threw out a sing songy "see ya soon" (seeah sooon) over her shoulder. We hopped in the van, turned up Kids Place Live and headed home. But three blocks out of the driveway, we passed a park and saw a little family playing -- the dad pushing the kids extra high on the swings-- their feet kicked up in the air and bright against the piercing blue sky. Anna instantly shouted, "Singing! Singing!" which directly translates to: "Swinging! Someone is swinging and now I want to do that too!" And because the bright blue sky and cool autumn breeze and pumpkins beginning to pepper front door stoops just beg people to spend one more minute outside....we did.
We came home and the three of us (Anna, her new baby doll, and I) headed to our backyard where we proceeded to swing Baby and climb Baby ("Kye-ming") and slide Baby. We laughed and giggled and swung and climbed and slid for a good fifteen minutes while I silently praised myself for just going with the flow and enjoying the moment. Because, you know.... this amazingly beautiful day and this crisp fresh air was, in fact, going to 'tucker her out' for a well-deserved nap.
So let's fast-forward a few minutes and do a little time lapse:
1:07 We've come inside and are in Anna's room. I've picked out two books and am ready to read them, but Anna is still pulling book after book off her shelf. I'm cool with that.
1: 12 First book is done and Anna has been on and off the bed five times. Each time she says, "I'll get it!" and hops off... and then climbs back up saying, "I got it?" I smile and nod and say "Yay!!" because I don't really know what else to do and say.
1:15 Second book is a bust. Anna has tossed it aside and is upside down peeking through her legs in Downward Facing Dog pose. (Note: Anna's down-dog pose is super cute and adorable and impossible to deter her from doing.)
1:16 I'm lying down saying, "Shhhh. Shhhh. Time for nigh-night."
1:16 Anna is saying, "No." "No nigh-night." "Where my Barbie?"
1:18 Anna is back on the floor, and shouting, "My Barbie!" (which sounds a little Bostonian because she can't say her R's) and pulls out her new mermaid Barbie that Mason hastily shoved under the bed last night. This Barbie has been in our family for one day and already we're trying to figure out how to confiscate it and where to stash it so she can sleep. See, the thing lights up like a college night club with flashy red and blue lights which, (while super cool), doesn't really seem to be helpful in getting a toddler to sleep.
1:20 I have tried to tear Anna away from the flashy Mermaid Barbie to no avail. I glance at my watch for the first time. Hmmm....
1:21 Anna is now on the bed but not doing yoga this time. Now she is clinging on to her headboard rails and bouncing. She sings, "Bounce Bounce Bounce!" as she rhythmically hops up and down on her bed. I keep pretending to sleep.
1:22 I'm thinking about all the leftover pizza I've eaten today and wondering if there is still more in the fridge.
1:24 Anna is saying, "Kye-it Anna! Mama seeping. Anna bouncing! Shhhhh!" I'm smiling but still pretending to be asleep.
1:27 Anna is now sitting on my head. She's still bouncing and the bed is squeaking. It's really rhythmic and it makes me laugh because I'm inappropriate like that. But I can't laugh because 1) I'm pretending to be asleep and 2) Anna's sitting on my head and I really can't breathe very well.
1:29 All of the sudden I see a disco ball in front of my eyelids. It's bright and pulsing and a little disconcerting. I pop my eyes open and come face to face with Mermaid Barbie and Anna peering into my eyes. "Mommy up! Morning Mama!" I close my eyes to fake sleep again. I have been fake sleeping for one hundred hours.
1:30 Anna snuggles down and her binkie falls out of her mouth. In her immediate worry over the lost binkie, I snag the psychedelic Mermaid and shove her under a quilt that's tucked into my armpit. I'm willing her not to start flashing her flashy Mermaid lights while she's under the blanket.
1:31 Anna has found her binkie and is snuggling down to sleep. I glance at my watch again. I'm getting hungry but she'll be lights-out soon....
1:32 I hear Anna get up and bounce to the foot of the bed to do part 2 of her bed-trampoline act. While bouncing, she notices another Barbie on the floor....
1:36 I'm beginning to think that maybe fake sleeping my afternoon away isn't such a good use of my time. (Watching Y&R on our couch, on the other hand, is very productive.)
1:37 Anna is playing with her dresser. It has 12 knobs and she is practicing turning all of them. She also appears to be checking on whether or not the drawers open and close functionally.
1:39 I decide fake sleeping isn't very productive so I heave myself up from the bed, and inch to the door. Anna protests--(cries) but I close the door gently behind me, having successfully smuggled Mermaid Barbie out of the room (wrapped up in a giant ball of a quilt) and leaving Anna alone with her dresser knobs and leftover Barbies that don't light up.
1:41 Anna is now the actor-- she's fake crying in her room and I'm hunched over the counter, eating cold pizza straight from the Pyrex container. I don't even feel guilty about acting like an animal-- I"ve been thinking about this moment for awhile.
1:45 All is quiet. I momentarily worry-- it's the crux of parenting because what you desperately want (a little peace and quiet) is usually pretty terrifying and unsettling when it happens.
1:49 It has been quiet for too long and I'm a little worried so I tiptoe into Anna's room and discover her passed out on her floor, with a Barbie clutched in her hand. I carefully pick her up, move her to the bed, and cover her up with a soft & well-loved blanket from my childhood.
1:50 I'm kneeling next to Anna's bed, smiling over this past hour together-- how sweet and fun this little person is. I take a moment to marvel at how alive she is with energy and enthusiasm and spark. And then I kiss her soft little arm, tiptoe out of her room, and sink into our couch.