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!!!”
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.”
Me: “Did you know that I love you?”
Billie: “Of course I know that.”
Me: “What?! Who told you??”
Billie: “Nobody told me. I just love you a lot. And when you love someone really, really a lot, like a super big lotta love, sometimes they have so much love that they give you some back.”