A few nights ago, Alice tried something new.
“Mama?” she called, stumbling down the hallway toward our bedroom at 3 or 4 in the morning.
“Oh, did you want me to come lay with you?”
Well. How can you say ‘no’ to that?
It’s getting better, but lately she’s been having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep without one of us next to her.
She says she is afraid. Of “bicycles, firetrucks and ambulances.”
Which means, “motorcycles, firetrucks and ambulances.”
Which means loud noises. Or that she just needs extra love.
We try to be patient.
I squeeze into her toddler bed and try to remind myself that it won’t last long, that someday, all those nights she wanted me right next to her will seem very far away.
There are some lines she misheard in a movie: A mother says, “I love you more.” A daughter replies, “I love you most.”
Alice thinks the daughter said, “I loved you first.”
She wriggles herself under my arm at bedtime and says, “I loved you first.”
I say, “No way. I loved you first.”
She says, “No. You don’t love me first.”
“No,” she says. “You love me always.”
(But also, it must be said, I loved her first.)