That's how it is for Reese and I at bedtime lately.
Except I'm the much less clingy lover. And she's the one you always feel sorry for and have to avert your eyes because she's making such a scene.
Somehow we've gotten into an elaborate bedtime routine with Reese that has more steps than putting together a piece of furniture from IKEA. Way too elaborate to elaborate on here, that's for sure. And embarrassing, this fact that a four-year old has snookered us into this much hoopla each evening. Anyway, one nice part, aside from just getting to hang out with her, is that in an effort to keep me just a moment (or twenty) longer as I'm inches from a clean getaway, holding onto the frame of her doorway with my fingernails, the rest of my body pointing off down the hall in the direction of non-Noggin television and unhealthy treats, she has come up with a new twist in her scheming: flattery.
"Mama: you are so _______"
Handsome. But in a girl way.
"Mama, you have a warm heart and that is why you are going to be 100, because your heart is SO warm."
Then, there are requests for more hugs, "ones she can feel." She says this, squeezing the life out of me, her strong arms tightly around my neck.
"Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. If they do bite, I'll be right here. I don't want this dolly. I need that dolly. I'm thirsty. I have to go potty. Can you get Daddy right now. No, RIGHT now. This second. "
And I'm finally off, down the hall to send in the talent for Act II and then, she is calling after me:
"I love you. See you in the morning, Mama."
If these statements are not met with a call and response-response, much chaos and tears may ensue and some steps of the process may require repeating, thus shortening the already brief time between kid bedtime and ours to mere minutes.
But in the moments the kind words are falling from her lips, manipulative or not, agenda or not, they can't help but plant themselves like little seedlings in my heart, where I keep them safe for another day. When maybe the compliments might have dried up and I will have to dredge them up from here, from this fertile ground of love and happiness - her four-year old perspective of me and all my perfection and how nothing is greater than being carried in my arms down the hall and there are no goodbyes on the horizon.