big sister anniversary, originally uploaded by kelanew.

"eva, can i hold your hand? not because you *need* to hold my hand on the sidewalk -- you can walk along this busy road by yourself -- but just because i like to?"
"because then our hearts will be connected?" (i must have said this to her one time.)
we were walking to a trial dance class at the rec center down the road. there was a pause.

"mama? can we pretend there's a string that attaches to my heart, and goes all the way over and connects to your heart? and then we'll always be connected?"
"sure! hmm, i wonder what happens if i went... all the way across the street! then what?"
"well, it would still reach, because i'd just make it longer."
"what if... what if i was at home but you were at school?"
"then i'd just make it super long! but we'd still be connected."
"does it stretch, or grow, or, how does it get so long?"
"no, it's automatic. you see, i just have these buttons..."

she went on to describe the buttons -- there were three, one to make it short, one to make it medium, and one to make it long. oh wait, she decided after some thought, there's one more button to reel it back in when we go closer to each other. also -- she was very clear on this -- each button makes a different sound (she went on to demonstrate them as we walked).

"eva, what is this whole system called?"
"it's called the Automatic Super String of the Heart Connect."

be still my heart. and i love that it's mechanical, with buttons. when it comes to this sort of thing, she generally reports that charlie taught her about it.

so she had a big long day of too many new activities, with some intense emotions (accompanied by some insight, "i'm having a lot of trouble today, it's a really hard day!" she said through her tears -- usually that realization comes not until she's calmed down).

as i was working on painting her room late tonight, she woke up and needed more water, but mostly wanted to snuggle. i told her i was working on her room, and said i was curious whether she thought she'd choose to sleep in the big bedroom or in her new bedroom.

"mom, i have the perfect solution. i can start the night sleeping in here with you guys, then if i wake up in the night, i can just move to my own room."
huh. odd that she hit upon the usual arrangement, but in reverse. i offered the more standard order of bed-moving, and she would have none of it.
"oh, mama, i just prefer my solution, okay?"
fine, then. she rolled over to go back to sleep.

"you know what eva? i think if you choose to sleep in your bedroom, i might miss you a bit."
(honestly, i'll miss her a lot, but my point in telling her this was to let her know it's okay to be happy and sad at the same time about new things... she's had several changes to cope with lately.)
she rolled back to face me, smiling, and with half-asleep eyes.

"oh mama!" she said in that clearly-you-jest voice she has perfected, "you wouldn't miss me. because of our heart-connector strings!"

oh right. how could i forget?

back in january (when i planned to start working on her room, before i knew i'd be half or more sick all spring) i asked her if she might like to sleep in her new room. i asked just like that, very casually. she immediately started crying and protested, "but i'll miss you guys if i sleep far away by myself!" i reassured her she didn't have to sleep anywhere else if she didn't want to. what a change, five months later, when *she's* reassuring *me*. i always trusted that we'd collectively know when she was ready, and i guess she is. (or, i should say, ready to give it a try... )

[i can't resist adding: she even helped me paint earlier, until she decided it wasn't "as interesting ("inch-rest-ing") as i thought it would be... it seems like painting a *whole* room is annoying!" sorry to burst your bubble.]

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