"Shhh ... just close your eyes and relax, baby."
"But mama, I tried that already. I caaaaaaaaan't sleeeeeeep."
"Maybe if you try longer than three seconds, it just might happen."
"Shhh ... Daddy's already asleep. Want me to sing you a lullaby? Whichever one you want, baby girl."
She finally stops her fidgeting and snuggles closer to me. "You pick, mama."
Without hesitation, I launch into the first bedtime lullaby session in recent memory. She's almost five and while I'm holding on to her wanting to co-sleep for as long as she will let me, she stopped asking me to sing her to sleep a few years ago. I softly sing that she is my sunshine, my only sunshine, as she relaxes even more into my body.
I smile into the dark.
The day didn't start this sweet. Buttercup has been home sick from preschool for over a week now with a low-grade fever, congestion, vomiting, and lots of whining brought on by the horrible Tucson allergy season. Nebulizers and medications and trips to the allergist and waiting in the Walgreens parking lot for more prescriptions have been par for the course lately. So has an attitude that makes me fear the day she realizes she has hormones. The kid hates being sick.
This morning she woke up happy. But somewhere between getting out of bed and sitting down to pee, the stars must have fallen out of alignment because the child shot right passed crabby and hit bitchy in ten seconds flat. Her eyes narrowed and she glared up at me from her perch on the toilet with a look that gave me every confidence in the world she's ready to hold her own on an elementary school playground. Then she announced that she couldn't pee.
"What do you mean, you can't pee? Do you mean you don't have to go yet?"
"No," she spat out. "I have to and I just can't."
"So try harder?"
"I am, Mama! I. Just. CAN'T."
And the stand off began. I had things to do today and lots of shit to attend to before I ran out of time. BFF Heather was going to be coming over later to tag along on another one of my doctor appointments this afternoon while her fiance was set to play dollhouse and watch princess movies with Buttercup. I wanted to make sure I had a bra on before they showed up in four hours.
"Do you hurt in your belly?" I ask.
"No," she grunts back.
"Does your vagina hurt?" I ask.
"No, my bagina does not hurt." She says back, her teeth clenched. "I just can't go."
Satisfied she doesn't need a trip to the pediatrician and this is just the world's most original tantrum, I leave the bathroom and make my way to my shower.
"Fine," I call back as I walk away. "Sit there as long as you want to. I'm not scheduling my day around when you decide to stop being a drama queen."
I'm answered with furious tears and sobbing. Turns out she hadn't expected me to leave. And yet she's still sitting there after I return, dressed, teeth brushed, flossed, hair done, and make-up applied. Kid knows how to dig in her heels, that's for damned sure. So I called her bluff.
"I guess we need to go to a hospital."
"Well, if you can't pee, that's not a good thing for you body. And that means I need to take you in so the doctors can fix you." I pause for effect. "I'll go get my purse and the car keys so we can leave right away."
Her eyes are wide. She's blinking. A lot. The wheels in that head of hers are turning furiously. And just as suddenly as she flipped the switch to bitch, she flips it back to sweet angel as she finally let the iron hold on her bladder go. "Wow, guess what, Mama! I'm cured!"
I gloat inside of my head and rejoice with her as we finally get started with our day.
"Mama, I love you," she whispers. Her head is on my chest now. Her voice thick with the sleep that's about to consume her.
I ask her to please never take my sunshine away, and hug her closer.