Conversation has been a challenge for Bailey as long as I can remember. The kind of back-and-forth, really-getting-to-know-one-another conversation that mothers look forward to having with their daughters seems unreachable to me. Any question I ask about her day is met with answers to what Tulip, her pretend friend, did that day. It sort of goes like this…
Me: “Hey sweetie! How was your day? Did you get to play any instruments in music class today?”
Bailey’s very animated response: “Guess what!?”
Me, hopeful: “What?!”
Bailey, still animated: “You will never believe what happened to Tulip today.”
My heart sinks, but I still manage a pretty enthusiastic “what?”
Bailey: “She was in the cafeteria eating her lunch when someone accidentally spilled milk all over her head. She was so upset she cried.”
Everyday I hear these long elaborate tales of what Tulip did, but nothing that tells me what and how my daughter did the 6 1/2 hours she was away from me. Although I sometimes wonder if these fantasy tales offer a hint as to how she experienced the day. I can’t imagine though… some of the stuff Tulip gets herself into are just so out there. Not too long ago she suffered a broken face.
So when a moment strikes I search my brain for some topic, any topic, to engage her with. Even if it starts off promising it usually ends up with me losing her not too far into it. The other day she took me off guard by asking me how my day was, but then interrupted me as she began repeating the phrase in monotone “Step back. Doors are closing. When boarding move to the center of the car. Step back. Doors are closing. When boarding move to the center of the car.” A phrase she likes to recite often after hearing it on the Metro.
If Bailey isn’t talking about Tulip’s mischief, she’s talking about Toontown, her favorite website. She talks about it at breakfast, while I’m helping her get ready for school, she interrupts her bedtime story to tell me about it… During our weekly movie night she will turn to me 10 minutes into the movie and tell me that Lollipop (one of her toons) ordered glasses from the Cattlelog and she wonders if they’ve arrived yet. Laying next to her as she was drifting off to sleep one night I heard her whispering to herself… “got to get on the Toontown trolley…toontown training video… 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16…. six more to go. Gag, gag, gag, gag, gag, gag, gag. Lollipop, lollipop.” It exhausted me just listening to it, thinking about all that swirling around in her head.
But oh last night! Last night we had such an awesome talk that I’m still walking on air. It started with her asking me how I knew her daddy was “the one”. This is an unprecedented question for her to even think about asking. She never voluntarily bothers with anything that doesn’t have to do with her world. I took a deep breath and dragged out that conversation as long as I possibly could, which was probably a good 10 minutes. She was genuinely interested and engaged in what I was saying and she actually asked questions and waited for responses. And then asked MORE questions. I enjoyed every second of it, making sure I was silly enough to keep her attention but also making sure I explained how important it is to let God lead us. It was such an awesome few minutes, and then…
Bailey: “Nevermind! I have an idea!”
Me: “What’s your idea?”
Bailey: “Nevermind! I have an idea! Nevermind! I have an idea!”
It hits me that she is reciting Spongebob. But I don’t care because it was absolutely, fantastically wonderful while it lasted. I can’t wait for the next time we talk.