I walked in the door after work, starved for my girls. Katie was waiting for me at the top of the steps, her nose buried in her latest book. I planted a kiss on her soft little cheek and lingered there, breathing her in.
Behind her, I caught a quick glimpse of Brooke peeking her little head around the corner like a sprite. I stepped into the entryway just in time to see her running in the opposite direction. She careened into the kitchen and laid herself down, flat on her belly as if she had slid into home. She yelled back to where I was standing, no doubt looking confused. “Hug me, Mama!”
I shook my head with a smile and clucked, thinking she was being silly, playing for a laugh. Besides, it would be awkward at best to hug her in that position. How does one ‘hug’ a child who is lying flat on her stomach? I waited, thinking she’d get up, but she wasn’t moving.
“Hug me, Mama!” she yelled again, this time into the floor.
I figured I’d meet her halfway, so I crouched down to a squat next to her.
“C’mon, little love,” I said as I opened my arms. “Come on up to Mama for a hug.”
She didn’t move.
“You hug me,” she said.
Screw it, I thought as I did my best to lie down next to her and snuggle into a hug of sorts.
“You are hugging me, Mama!”
Well, kind of, I thought. I had one arm draped around her and my head was half hovering and half resting on her back.
I felt silly and awkward lying down in the middle of my kitchen. It’s different. It’s odd. It’s unconventional. It’s strange. It’s just not something people do. Who the heck lies down on their floor to spoon with their kid?
Well, apparently I do.
Brooke wanted a hug and she wanted it on her terms. And when it came down to it, why the hell not?
All day Brooke works so hard. She sits still in school, fighting every impulse to squirm and wiggle and bounce. She replaces her natural greetings (tickles and deebahs and snipwaters) with ‘appropriate’ words fed to her by her aide. She stands in line. She asks for breaks. She stifles screams. She tolerates noise and light and every type of sensory assault imaginable. She waits her turn and she follows directions. In short, she conforms. In ways both big and small, she meets the world on its terms all day long.
At home, I think it’s kind of nice to meet her on her terms. At least some of the time.
Lying on the hard wood floor I thought, So this is what it feels like to dance.