"Watch me, Mommy!"
"Watsh me, Mom-ME!" she says and I do, I always do. I think she asks because she wants to be seen. Or because she needs the information my reaction gives her: Is this okay? Funny? Against the rules?
Sometimes I wonder if her experience doesn't seem real to her unless my eyes see it. I wonder if she feels like she's a part of me- the way that I feel her to be, so much so that I need to remind myself that her body, her mind, her life, is her own.
She looks to me as she would look to a mirror, to check herself, to see herself reflected.
I think this is the most awesome, terrifying power of a primary caregiver: my reaction, more than anything else in her world, teaches her about the nuances of behavior, how the world works, what is expected of her.
Her older sister doesn't ask me to watch her much anymore. Z is slipping into the phase of life where she wants to hide some things from me; walking into other rooms to play, closing her door, answering "nothing" when I ask her what's going on.
Still, I watch both my girls.
One I watch fully, loudly, vigilant for falls and chokables, issuing corrections and reminders, exalting over victories large and small. The other I watch a little more silently every day, around corners and in the dark, trying to step in only when necessary, my worries now consumed with rudeness or social ineptitude or dark information trading hands.
"Watch me Mommy!" they say, until they don't say it anymore.
But still, we watch.