Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pinky Swear

Photo by Kim J. Gifford
We recently taught E how to do a "pinky swear" or "pinky promise." Similar to when she learned the phrase, "Amen," she uses it when I least expect it -- like when I tell her that we're having mac 'n' cheese for dinner. She locks her pointer finger with my pinky, looks up at me hopefully and says, "Pinky?!" Yes, I pinky-swear to keep prepping this mac 'n' cheese for you. How cute!

Then, last week, she caught me off-guard with a pinky-promise-request I will never forget and intend to keep.

She had been talking about her long-time day care friend, Gwen, quite a bit. She would go through the names of her day care friends, then pose Gwen's name as a question. I gave her my standard reply, "Yes! You're so smart! You know Gwen!"

On Thursday, I happened to mention this to the day care teacher who sounded surprised and told me that Gwen left the day care awhile ago. I was heartbroken. I know my daughter is only 15 months old, and I may be putting more of my own emotions into this situation, but I felt like she was asking me where she was and why she left. I also felt like I should have a real discussion with her about it.

It never occurred to me that people would be coming in and out of her life at day care -- that there would naturally be changes with teachers and kids coming and going. That's fine -- her home life is stable, but does she know that we won't leave, that she'll always have her Mama and Dada? I wasn't sure, but I wanted to try to convey that to her.

Gwen's name didn't come up again until the next morning. E was jumping on the bed as Mark and I were trying to wake up. Then she sat down next to me and asked, "Gwen?" I told her that Gwen had to leave day care -- that I was sorry I didn't know she left and that she didn't have her friend there any more. I hugged her tightly. I asked her if she knew that Gwen had left and if she missed her. She nodded.

Then I told her that Mama and Dada would never leave her. She didn't really respond, so I tried to rephrase it. I said, "Mama and Dada will always be with you." She smiled up at us and held both pointer fingers in the air -- one for each of us and said, "Pinky?"

It was such a special moment. Even Mark had tears in his eyes. We made a pinky-swear circle and gushed, "Of course!!" and "Yes, always!!"

It's funny how my anxiety works. I'm always afraid of dying or losing her -- that somehow the world will pull us apart. And maybe that pinky swear was partly the promise you make to a child when you want to give them security in an ever-changing universe. But, in that moment, I actually believed that I would always be with her. I know that I will overcome any and all odds to be by her side.

And as hard as it's been to write lately (I blame the beautiful weather), I'm motivated to keep writing something, even to just record the little things -- knowing that she'll always have these words. In that way, no matter what, I'll always be with her.


Unknown said...

This is beautiful! I'm crying!

Unknown said...

Aww, thanks!!