She is cranky all day, upset by everything, going from silence to screaming in 0 seconds flat. Her feelings are hurt by every imagined offense. Every slow response is a slight. She's been getting worse every day for at least a week. Ever since a doctor's appointment that scared her actually. She is miserable to live with. She is miserable, and I know what I need to do.
I wait until the baby is asleep before I tell her. I don't want to make a promise in case something goes wrong. "I have to go to the store. How would you like to come with me?"
"Yah. But could I watch a movie right now with the Girl?"
"Not if you want to come to the store with me. I need to go right now and I wanted to take just you so I could spend some time with you. Everyone else will stay home with daddy."
She's not sure. She had her heart set on watching a show and I'm not going to make her.
"You don't have to come with me. I just thought you might want to. If you want to stay home instead and watch a show you can."
"Ok den, I will stay home."
It's time for my trump card. "All right. Well, I was really looking forward to spending some time with just you for a change. I'm not even bringing the baby!"
She looks up in amazement. "You're not bringing him? It's just me? I don't have to help him if he cries in the car?"
"Yes," I smile. "Just you and me."
"Then I want to come wif you."
She chatters away as we drive to the store. "I love you mommy. You and me are going all by ourselves to the store. I like that it's only us going to the store. You love me, and evybody loves me. And evybody loves God, and evybody loves me."
She makes a list of everyone who loves her and God, starting with the baby, then her other siblings, mommy and daddy, and moves on to grandparents and aunts and uncles.
She holds my hand on the way in. Choosing what we will find first. It's the ginger ale I promised to get a few days ago of course.
She skips through the store. She vibrates excitement. She laughs at everything.
"What a happy child!" One of the store employees stops to exclaim.
She is glowing, alive, excited.
The shadow of the cranky, hurt, short fused girl has dissipated. Here is my Little as she truly is.
I let her choose a treat to share with everyone else when we get home. She cavorts beside me in the line for the checkout.
She runs inside, offering everyone their treats, talking excitedly.
For family night she sits on my lap as we watch a show.
She's been fine ever since.