"Mama, don't push me," Ittybit says sternly as I interrupt her latest game of "King of the Mountain" (my shoulders being the mountain) by putting her back on solid ground. "I didn't push you," I tell her, "I helped you repel down to the foothills."
She clamors up my chest and over my shoulders again, this time all slit-eyed and daring me to thwart her ascent. I drag her halfway down the mommy mountain, roll her over my knees and prop her back up into a sitting position at my feet. All the while she clings to two fistfuls of my uncombed hair.
She begins to protest again, but this time her tone has changed: 'NOOOOO, I wanna stay wit you, mama. I wanna stay wit yooooooou!'
Lately, I've noticed, she's been playing this game more and more. "But I wan YOU, mama" has become her mantra, especially when all mama wants is to be left in peace.
The look on her face when she changes from gleeful to glum is positively heartbreaking. It snaps me out of my annoyance and into another test of self. It makes me ashamed to think about all the times I haven't been fully present with her because I am lost in my own inner world. Whether she's manipulating the situation doesn’t seem to matter. I know that it won't be long until she doesn't want me within sight distance, let alone acting as the chair (or the mountain) beneath her.
However much I want to eat my toast or drink my coffee in peace right now is how much I'll want her to be her raucous little-girl self later, times two.
This particular morning, as we have in the past four mornings, we trundled out of the house forgetting rain gear. We were late this morning, which meant no sit-down breakfast again. A cup of "hot milk," an apple and a bag full of cereal were packed to go. I strap her into the car, hand her the breakfast and go back for her "um-bella," which she insists on propping above her head as we drive so she can munch on her "seer-we-wool" and stay dry, because it's "rainy out, mama."
I wonder, as we are driving along, if anyone will notice the car seat adorned with a blue and yellow-polka-dotted umbrella bobbing along with the unheard rhythm of The Wiggles. I wonder, if I were me in my previous life -- the childless one that seems as if it were 100 years ago -- and I saw this traveling circus drive by, would I laugh or shrug?
I contemplate the phenomenon of such annoyances in other people's children, but I can't sustain the notion. Because the fact is I really don't care what other people think anymore, and I'm sure glad I'm laughing now.