Earlier this week, I set up a sleepover for Ava with her best buddy on Thursday night, and both girls were over the moon with excitement. It was the first friend sleepover ever for Ava, and she talked about it on and off all day, her suitcase pulled out and ready.
On Thursday she woke up and her eyes were red-rimmed and a little bloodshot. I had that sinking feeling that she was getting sick, but she assured me she felt fine. Around 10 am, I couldn't find her anywhere, and discovered she was curled up in her bed, sleeping. Highly unusual, and another large red flag. When she woke up and stumbled out to the family room couch, I could tell before I touched her face that it was steamy hot, just by the tone of her skin and the bleary look in her eyes.
The call was placed to her friend's mom, and we both dreaded the task of breaking the news to our girls. Ava heard me on the phone, and by the time I hung up, she was sobbing gently on the couch, ripe, fat tears rolling down her warm cheeks. She cried for a long time, while I hugged her, and then took her medicine, and settled in for a day on the couch.
Disappointment is hard to bear at any age. It never gets easier, to manage my own crushed hopes, or those of my friends or my children. As we age, we find better ways to deal with disappointment (or hide it), but kids wear their hearts on their sleeves, and I love that vulnerability, but it also frightens me, because they can be so easily hurt without those layers of cynicism to protect them.
She had a two hour nap in the afternoon, while William went to his buddy's house for a playdate, and I wrote a letter to Jason Reitman, as a shot in the dark, since he's the director I would handpick for my screenplay. At this point in the process, I want to take a few more risks. He can only ignore my letter, or throw it out, but maybe, just maybe, he'll read it and it will strike a chord. Taking chances invigorates me and gives me energy where I'm lacking some. It was a good afternoon.
In the evening, Jason walked with William down to the Farmer's Market, and I stayed with Ava, as her fever spiked again after dinner and she was listless and unrecognizable as my vivacious daughter. I gave her medicine and tucked her into bed, and told her I'd stay with her until she fell asleep. I tickled her legs lightly with my hands, something she loves, and sang all of the old hymns that I used to sing her as a baby, swaying in the rocking chair with her in my arms when she was sick.
Her eyes drifted shut, and I watched her closely as I sang, a huge lump forming somewhere in my throat, as I could locate that baby in her face, those tiny, chubby fingers in her big kid hands, and her baby toes in her size 2 feet. The years simply disappeared while I sang hymns that I didn't even know I still remembered, like In the Garden and The Old Rugged Cross, and I thought about all of the things I treasured about Ava as a baby that I don't think about on a daily basis anymore.
I hated it when people told me how fast the time goes when my kids were babies, but it turns out they knew something that I had absolutely no knowledge of. It does go fast, so fast you can't even believe it, and while I enjoy this age and stage that both of them are in, last night I physically yearned for her to be a baby again so I could rock her when she was fevered. She needed me last night the way she needed me then, and I loved that I could be there for her, putting everything aside to focus on what she needed. She'll remember that, and so will I.