I am officially in the Christmas spirit

“I think this little girl wants to play, too,” I tell my children. Monkey obediently scoots back to make room, but as the interloper reaches for the toy, Chickadee starts telling her to sit back and watch, she will show her how it works. “Chickadee.” No response. “CHICKADEE. Please let her have it.”

“I’m just SHOWING her—”

“She can figure it out. Let her have it.” She ignores me, and puts her hand up to the offender once more, explaining that she will demonstrate. “Chickadee. NOW.” She turns over the toy but stands with a huff and a stomp and starts to leave. “Chickadee. Don’t leave, honey, just— Chickie. CHICKADEE!” She has tried to push past me and I grab her arm. She howls in indignation.

“LET GOOOOOOOOOOO!”

It is unfair, really. She’s been so good all day. There are a million people here and she’s been gentle and kind with the smaller children for hours. In fact, she cleaved to her youngest soon-to-be new cousin and doted on his every whim for longer than any other tween would’ve tolerated a rambunctious toddler. She has ducked her head and shyly remembered her manners with a dozen people who are very interested in her despite her only wanting to go and play or perhaps eat some snacks.

But this is typical; she is tired and a meltdown is imminent. While I want to avoid a scene, I also cannot let the rudeness and melodrama go unchecked. She is now flailing in my grasp and I am leaning down to eye level to quietly explain that she must get herself together or we will need to leave. She is still protesting, howling, and twisting.

Obviously we need to go.

“Okay, Chickie. Put your shoes on. Upstairs, now.” She flops down with her shoes, still carrying on and indignant. “Monkey, I’ll be back for you in a minute, okay? Please play nicely… I’ll be right back.”

I lead her up the stairs, around the bend, and out the front door—around a small group of people who are taking their leave—and stop in the driveway to face her. “What is going on?” She glares up at me.

“Nothing. You GRABBED me. That wasn’t nice! I don’t want to be grabbed!”

“Chickadee, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to grab you. I called your name and you didn’t stop, so then I did grab your arm to stop you. I didn’t want you stomping off like that; you scared that little girl and you were being rude.”

“Well YOU WERE BEING MEAN!” I tell you, hand to God, I never understood the phrase “if looks could kill” the way I understand it now that I have a daughter. She is furious.

“Chickadee. I don’t understand. We were having such a good day today. Why do you want to ruin it now at the end?”

Something flickers behind her glare and her face crumples. “I don’t knooooowww!” And now she is burying her head in my middle, sobbing, clinging to me, my little girl again.

“Alright, sweetie. I think you’re tired. Shall we get our things and go home and put you to bed?” She nods against me, relief seeping out of her, and I pick her up. I marvel again—as I so often do, these days—at how heavy she feels despite being all spindly gazelle legs.

We work out way back inside, and I find Otto to tell him that we need to leave. I am holding Chickadee, I have a purse and other items to collect, plus I need to go back downstairs to get Monkey. For a moment I cannot decide where to go or how to do this. I put Chickadee down on an armchair and she splays out looking pitiful, half-asleep and small again. I ask Otto to sit with her a minute. I lean down and ask her if she’d like him to sit with her, and she brightens.

I lift her up, he sits down, and she settles on his lap and leans against his chest. I want to stay and drink in this picture, but I have to go grab Monkey.

Once I find him again, he, too, is now tired and cranky. I pick him up and work my way back upstairs. Back to Otto again, I tell him I think we’re ready to go. He rises and gently sets Chickadee on the floor and asks if she wants to walk out to the car or be carried. She holds her arms up to him and in one scoop he has hoisted her up. She immediately lays her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes.

Both Otto and I work our way through what seems like a hundred people to say goodbyes and get outside to the car. The kids say goodbye when prompted, but they are clearly All Done with this particular outing.

My last stop before heading out the door is to give a quick hug to Otto’s mom, who holds me there next to her while watching Otto. My daughter is draped on him, and even as he quickly chats with others one arm holds and steadies her while his opposite hand strokes her back.

“You’ve brought out such a tender side of my son,” his mother whispers to me. I know theirs is a relationship that has not always been easy. She sounds a bit amazed, and I am, in turn, a bit startled by her surprise.

“He’s a good one,” I respond, smiling and readjusting my grip on my son while watching Otto shield Chickadee from each corner and person as he moves through the crowd. I want to say a million things: that I cannot take credit for his tenderness; that he has brought out more in me than I knew was still in there; that my ferocious little girl tends to command a depth of feeling that is itself surprising; that I am grateful for each click of our lives snapping into place together (even as I know that not all of those clicks will be easy ones); that I hope she will come to know that this is not something new in her son, but has been him all along.

It all catches in my throat, and I can only repeat, “He’s a good one,” as I give her arm a final squeeze and walk out into the night with my family.

41 Responses to “I am officially in the Christmas spirit”

  1. 1
    meghann December 17, 2006 at 11:27 pm #

    Oh geez, now I’m all choked up. Good job snagging one of the good ones.

  2. 2
    Allanna December 18, 2006 at 12:07 am #

    Awwww!!! I pink puffy heart your fiance (in a totally non-threatening way).

    I’m so glad that your kids love him, too, and get along with him so well. And vice versa!

  3. 3
    Heather December 18, 2006 at 12:56 am #

    Oh, how I hate you :-P Got me crying, and I’d gone for several days being all tough and stuff.
    That’s beautiful honey, it really, really is. You’re so good at painting a verbal picture and sharing that magical moment with us.
    Thank you.

  4. 4
    Lady M December 18, 2006 at 1:27 am #

    Tear in my eye. Sniff. Happy Holidays!

  5. 5
    Elleana December 18, 2006 at 6:28 am #

    *sniff* So beautiful. *sniff*

  6. 6
    Carmen December 18, 2006 at 6:33 am #

    You handled that so well. Much better than I would have. I think Otto brings out the best in you.

    Absolutely beautiful!

  7. 7
    Sara December 18, 2006 at 7:17 am #

    Fabulous post, Mir.

  8. 8
    tori December 18, 2006 at 7:58 am #

    You should have to warn us when it is going to make us cry at the end totally out of nowhere. Beautiful! Now I’m going to wipe the tears off my face.

  9. 9
    chris December 18, 2006 at 8:21 am #

    What a beautiful post. Damn you I am all teary in my coffee now ;-)

  10. 10
    Jen December 18, 2006 at 8:21 am #

    Aww, you made me cry first thing this morning! Congratulations to all of you!

  11. 11
    Juliness December 18, 2006 at 8:35 am #

    Beautiful story, Mir. Thank you very much for this snapshot into your newfound happiness.

    I needed to experience something positive today and as usual, you blew the doors off for me.

  12. 12
    lastewie December 18, 2006 at 8:49 am #

    Sigh! Happy! Yay! Thanks as always…

  13. 13
    Suebob December 18, 2006 at 8:54 am #

    Awwww;

  14. 14
    Ei December 18, 2006 at 9:36 am #

    That is perfectly lovely.

  15. 15
    Bob December 18, 2006 at 9:43 am #

    I am so happy for you. All of these magic moments, they make the best memories. I hope they continue to happen for years to come.

  16. 16
    Beachgal December 18, 2006 at 10:03 am #

    doing a bit of sniffling here myself. So sweet. Glad you found your ‘good one.’

  17. 17
    Dawn December 18, 2006 at 10:15 am #

    “and walked into the night with my family”…..oh my gosh. I can just picture it. Making memories, that’s what it’s all about. How lucky for your children that they have you, loving them, documenting it all, and not to mention finding that lucky guy! You did good.

  18. 18
    Jenn2 December 18, 2006 at 10:23 am #

    oh, here come the tears.

  19. 19
    Sophie December 18, 2006 at 10:23 am #

    That post gave me chills. I’m so happy for your happiness. Plus, what great writing!

  20. 20
    Nichole December 18, 2006 at 10:30 am #

    I’m so happy for you and the little ones.

  21. 21
    Aimee December 18, 2006 at 10:33 am #

    *sniff* What a beautiful post, Mir.

  22. 22
    catherino December 18, 2006 at 10:52 am #

    That was truly beautiful.

  23. 23
    Karen Rani December 18, 2006 at 10:53 am #

    There ought to be a Kleenex clause on posts like that, young lady. *sniff*

  24. 24
    Heidi December 18, 2006 at 11:33 am #

    I just love it when good things happen to good people.

  25. 25
    Sheila December 18, 2006 at 11:49 am #

    Good on you. Good on Otto. I love happy endings!

  26. 26
    Melanie Marie December 18, 2006 at 11:55 am #

    Very touching! I love how I can actually ‘see’ it by your description!

  27. 27
    Katherine December 18, 2006 at 11:59 am #

    Aww, yay for you all to have each other!

  28. 28
    Cele December 18, 2006 at 12:11 pm #

    Wow, on so many levels wow. The change in Chickie is amazing, before she would have come totally unglued, now there is a meeting and understanding between the two of you. and Otto, just balances the whole thing out. Merry Christmas

  29. 29
    Susan December 18, 2006 at 1:03 pm #

    That was beautiful, Mir.

    And you know what I love most about you? You make an effort to truly *understand* your children. I mean, you are clearly in charge, but you also are able to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. That is such an amazing and important thing to do. I know; my mom did it with me.

    Merry Christmas.

  30. 30
    Megan December 18, 2006 at 2:49 pm #

    He’s a good one. Congratulations.

    (wiping tears)

  31. 31
    Christina December 18, 2006 at 3:05 pm #

    I should have read this earlier today, how beautiful!

  32. 32
    Mara December 18, 2006 at 3:31 pm #

    Delurking (finally!) to say that was *such* a sweet post. I admire the way that you try to figure out what’s happening with your daughter rather than just snapping back at her, which so many parents would do without even thinking about it. Your kids are lucky to have you as their mom. :)

  33. 33
    InterstellarLass December 18, 2006 at 5:07 pm #

    It’s sweet when it all comes together.

  34. 34
    Daisy December 18, 2006 at 5:21 pm #

    Sniff. He’s a good one all right — and don’t forget, you’re a good one, too. (Dabbing eyes…)

  35. 35
    carolyn December 18, 2006 at 5:21 pm #

    Well, that made me cry.

  36. 36
    Susan December 18, 2006 at 5:44 pm #

    You should marry that man. Oh, wait, you’re going to . . .

    Must get tissue. Right now.

  37. 37
    Two Sirius December 18, 2006 at 7:01 pm #

    Awww!! Don’t you just LOVE the good ones?!

  38. 38
    Judy December 18, 2006 at 8:58 pm #

    Otto sounds as great as my husband. I am so happy for you and am so excited you will be in Georgia soon!

  39. 39
    CharlestonGirl December 19, 2006 at 12:18 pm #

    Ah, sometimes when it seems about to explode all around you, life again is perfection. Blessings!

  40. 40
    Heidi December 20, 2006 at 3:52 pm #

    sniff sniff that was beautiful!

  41. 41
    JGS December 27, 2006 at 1:12 pm #

    That is absolutely beautiful, tears in my eyes at work, hoping no one is looking. It’s great that his mother noticed and can comment on his kindness. His special relationship with your children seems like it is helping his relationship with his mother.

    It seems like everybody is getting something special out of your two families coming together.

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