It was time for bed. Well, if I’m being honest, it was long past time for bed, but neither of us was really ready for me to go. I remained where I was, curled around my girl in her tiny bed, fighting for space with a menagerie of stuffed animals and Ellie, an elephant the size of Manhattan.
“Kiss me!” Brooke yelled into the darkness. From under Ellie, her voice was muffled.
“What, honey?” I responded, unsure of what she had said.
“KISS ME!” she yelled again, her voice high and tight with need.
I kissed her smooth, warm cheek and, as though by magic, she was calm.
This is a thing now. Over the past few weeks, whenever Brooke has been feeling anxious, she has come to me for a kiss on her face or head. The demand for the kisses has continued to increase in both frequency and urgency. While I’m always happy to oblige, it’s not always easy to do, or even safe, as in when we are in the car in the middle of traffic and she needs me to kiss her face RightThisVerySecond. That said, I began to think last night – perhaps if I know exactly what it is that she’s seeking, or the feeling that she gets from the kisses, maybe I can help her to come up with an alternate strategy – one that can be employed in my absence or when I can’t get to her immediately. To that end, I asked her a question.
“Sweet girl, when you’re feeling anxious, do you know why kisses help?”
She didn’t answer, but I know better than to think that means she won’t. My girl needs time.
I listened to the soft gurgling of the fish tank and waited.
When she was ready, she issued three words.
“You love me.”
“I sure do,” I said. “How much?”
“So much – more than anything in the whole wide world,” she said. One of our oldest, and favorite, scripts.
I gave her a squeeze, then tried another tack.
“How do Mama’s kisses make you feel?”
This time, there was no wait. No gurgling fish tank, no quiet, no time to process the words then find her own. The answer was immediate.
I kissed every inch of her cheek, then sprinkled kiss after kiss through her hair.
Finding another strategy?
It would wait.