After I put him to bed and came downstairs, I drifted into the soothing frothy comfort of Facebook for a moment. Frances stomped up to me and said, "This is our special last few minutes together! How could you play on the computer? You can do that after I go to sleep!"
Defeated, I sat down on the couch. She called it.
But wait. Hang on. It's not that simple. "Frances," I said. "I think I'm feeling pretty mad at you for the way you treated your brother, and that's why I didn't want to spend this time with you."
There it was. I was so frustrated with her, I prefered the non-company of Facebook. (Kind of fed up with ALL of them this evening, to be honest. Feeling very done-in. Up-to-here. Like my hair should be standing on end in every direction and a smear of red lipstick should be traveling west, past my lips. If I wore lipstick, that is. If I were a deranged mother about to do something rash in an Almodovar movie from 1989 - that kind of up-to-here. But I digress.)
So we talked, and it was great. She's been beset by jealousy for months, ever since Beatrice was born, and she takes it out on her adoring brother. It twists and contorts her exquisite soul. She demands my attention in ways that incline me not to give it. She wants to be a baby, or she wants to be a grown up, and I never seem to hit it right. It is, in fact, impossible. But talking with her candidly made so much of all this sticky muck break up and move downstream, clearing the way for love to flow freely again. Even if it's just for tonight, no matter. It is always a relief to reconnect with my children.
When I finally hugged her goodnight, she said, "Mama. I figured it out. I want to have as much attention as a baby gets, lots and lots of it - but I want you to treat me like a grown up."
"So - the quantity of attention is baby-style, and the quality of attention is grown up-style?"
Well. At least she knows what she wants.
**titled Heroes of the Fire, about a group of children living in 'present-day Kansas' who battle a prairie fire that threatens their school.