She sits on the couch after school, feet tucked under her, staring intently at the book on her lap. It's one of the many American Girl books that rest in teetering stacks on her bedside table.
I tell her it's time for snack and she ignores me. I say it again, this time touching her shoulder and she startles, blinking at me like I just appeared in this room we've been sharing for half an hour.
"Sorry Mom," she says, turning back to her book, "I just really need to finish this chapter."
I smile inwardly. Outwardly, too.
You love to read. I think to myself with satisfaction and pride.
We will share this love of books. We will pass books back and forth and reminisce about favorite characters and grieve together over especially sad plot points. We will argue about writers and eagerly await new publications and squeal like Taylor Swift fans if we ever meet a favorite author.
Be like me.
She can't find something she NEEDS.
(She often can't find something she "needs".)
It's imperative she finds it, the end of the world if it's gone forever, she can't possibly do anything else until it's back in her hands.
I encourage deep breaths, reminding her that being upset makes finding things more difficult.
When we find it, someplace she didn't remember ever putting it, I sigh with relief but we aren't done.
Now she's down on herself.
"I'm so stupid. A stupid, stupid girl. A stupid girl who always loses things. No one likes me because I'm so stupid...."
It pours out of her in a torrent.
As it washes over me, I struggle to breathe against its powerful, deeply familiar current.
"Z!" I finally break in, "Z, don't talk to yourself like that. Words are powerful and I don't want you to talk about yourself that way. Let's find another way to let out angry, yucky feelings."
Don't be like me. Please, not in this way.