05 March 2011

My Shadow and Me

Emmaline just learned the word shadow.

"Why is she so different every day?" Daryl asked, tears in his eyes from laughing.

She is so different. It is not just that he works long hours and does not see her as often and for as long as he would like.

So yesterday evening when he came home from work she was having a meltdown. She had climbed up onto one of the dining room chairs all on her own, slithering up from under the table to stand and hold her arms out as if asserting her dominion over the tablecloth and floral centerpiece. (I wrote a book. My mom bought me flowers. The centerpiece is usually a pile of stuffed animals that have been rescued from the dog's jaws.) Then, when Emmaline was ready to get down she got stuck. She cried. She also, I think, realized that the load in her pants was a massive one and that it was smooshing up into unspeakable places.

She was inconsolable.

Daryl brought her upstairs and changed her diaper. I rubbed lotion onto her chapped face and hands. She started to giggle. She was still done with the day, making her sign for tired by rubbing her ear. She does this when she is ready to go down. The night of my book signing, we left her with a cousin who had watched her before during the day but never put her to bed. Around 7:30, Emmaline slid off her lap and walked to the door of the family room. She turned back and said, "Night, night." and proceeded on toward the stairs.

She knows when she is tired.

Leaving the door to her room open, I killed the overhead light. She gasped, pointing at the shadow she and Daryl were making now that the light was coming only from the hall.

"Shadow," Daryl said.

I stepped back into the room and waved so that the outline of my arm moves across the wall. Emmaline waved back.

"Bye," she called out toward the wall.

She buried her face against Daryl's chest as if about to close her eyes. She blinked a few times, then said, "Shadow," instead.

She kept repeating the word and raising her head to look at the wall. I patted Daryl's head, making a big up and down motion.

"Dada," I said.

I bounced my hand up and down on her head next, "Emma," and then my own, "Mama." She watched. I did it once or twice more.

"Shadow," she said, then, "Night night," then (because we really weren't getting the hint), "Bye!"

Daryl deposited her in the crib. Crake meowed from the hall.

"Bye!" Emmaline called to him.

"I love you," Daryl said. "Can you say 'I love you'?"

She rubbed her eyes.

"Skip the 'I'," I suggested.

"Love you," he told her in sing-song.

"Yayoo," Emmaline confirmed.

We slid out the room and into the hall.

"Bye," Emma said from the other side of the closed door.

"Bye," we answered before going downstairs.

Why was she so smart all of a sudden? Because she was exactly eighteen months old. Happy one and a half years, little one.

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