The other parents at gymnastics get these huge, unprompted hugs goodbye. I watch their kids rush toward the gym excitedly only to catch themselves, pulled back by some invisible thread, and throw the whole weight of their tiny bodies into their parents’ arms.
“I love you sooooo much! Have a good day!” they say.
I get no such response. Usually, unless I explicitly remind her that I exist, Billie will methodically pull her things out of her backpack, place them into her cubby in a precise order, then rush off to the balance beam without so much as a glance back.
In an attempt to get some sort of fanfare for my daily departure, I’ve finally incorporated a “find a way to say Goodbye” rule. It doesn’t have to be showy or even involve touch or words, but she does need to communicate that we’re parting.
Today, after her methodical cubby placement routine and in the midst of two other moms receiving the most genuine hugs from their kids, I tell Billie, “I’m leaving now, love. Can you find a way to say goodbye?”
She walks over to me, hands stubbornly stuck to her side, shoves her face in my chest, and screams,
“GOODBYE WOMAN. GOODBYE FOREVVVVVEEERRRR!!!”
“Oooh! Your boobs are almost as bouncy as the floor. Good job on that. Later, lady!!!”
…I’m starting to rethink my rule.
Billie: “That boy right there is the one who keeps knocking my blocks down.”
Me: “Really? I’m so sorry, Billie. That must be frustrating.”
Billie: “Really frustrating. I build and build and he just knocks my stuff down. I ask him to play but he just pushes my buildings over.”
Me: “Sometimes, when people destroy our buildings they actually help us see the flaws in our design. So that, next time, we can build something even stronger.”
Billie: “Like the pigs and the big bad wolf?”
Me: “Exactly like that.”
Billie: “So, then, I can build something so strong his tiny muscles can’t even touch!”
Billie: “But also- he kinda did a mean thing.”
Me: “Oh, yea, dude. That was a totally mean thing to do.”
Me: “Yes, love?”
Billie: “Didn’t the big bad wolf fall into a fire place and catch fire?”
Me: “Billie. You cannot set someone on fire because they knocked your blocks down.”
Billie: “Ok. Just checking.”
I used to have game.
But now, when random dudes approach me, I have a five year old who says shit like,
“you’re talking to my mom right now. She’s weird. Did you know that? She makes me blow my snot into tissues like some kind of ANIMAL.”
Billie: “What is this show?”
Me: “Oh, I’m watching something where they’re showing clips of the Miss America Pageant.”
Billie: “The Miss America Pageant?”
Billie: (looking closely at the clips of women walking around in dresses) “That’s not what it should be called.”
Me: “No? What should it be called, then?”
Billie: “It should be called, ‘Do You Like Me?’ Yea. That’s the name of that show.”
I’m not going to lie. This was ridiculously fun to make.
Every night we give Billie the option of singing a lullaby or making up her own. Tonight she chose to sing this:
“Bras are awesome
Bras are cool
When bras are around
You can see a boob!”
She continued for five minutes but it mostly just went “boobies boobies boobies yay” after that.
Billie: “You know why I love you, Auntie Chelsea? Because you’re nice to everyone, you have a pretty voice and, when you sing, you sing with your whole heart.”