Toddler. She's had a few rough days at school. Days smudged with uncharacteristic tears. It's all a guessing game of course, but my hunch? She knows what's coming. A tiny creature that will necessarily take me away. And I get it. I am having a hard time with the change that's ahead. I can't imagine how it would be if I were four.
I pick her up from school. And instead of whisking her home so I can get some writing done, I ask: Do you want to have lunch with Mommy?
Her eyes light up.
And soon. We are across from each other in a small booth. She munches her dinosaur nuggets as I tuck into my grilled cheese. She talks and talks. About her day. About school. About the silly kids in her class. And when we are finished, we walk. Along the city streets, toward home.
We stop in a little boutique. I find some brightly-colored burp cloths for the baby. Toddler spots it. The tutu. It's mint green and enormous. And then we hear it: That comes in a bunch of colors.
Even purple? I ask.
It comes in purple. Her favorite color in the world. And soon. My little girl is wearing it. The vast purple tutu. Over her school clothes. With her beloved dinosaur hat. I don't think twice. I buy it.
And she wears it home. Skipping on concrete. Leaving a splendid shadow. I jog to keep up.
She pauses to climb the mountains of soiled snow. Be careful, I whisper.
And she walks. Up ahead. Twirling in purple away from me. A beautiful and improbable image.
I catch up. And I tell her to look at me. To listen to me. I tell her that I love her new purple tutu. And then I tell her something she hears all the time. But on this day, on our afternoon, our just us afternoon, I think she really hears it.
I love you. You.
Her smile is grand. Glorious. As grand and glorious as that regal purple skirt that shimmies as she runs from me.
And I watch her go, trotting behind. And something occurs to me. Something simple and profound.
She needed this afternoon. And I did too.
Are you good about spending one-on-one time with your little creatures or other loved ones? Has it ever occurred to you that you need them as much as they need you? Do you recall meaningful time spent one-on-one with your mother or father? Do you think there is anything wrong with the wildly impulsive purchase of a purple tutu?