I crawled in her bed and tried to squoosh my arm under her neck, just the way she likes it, so I could cradle her and hold the book open and ease this girl towards sleep. Wait! L said. Not yet!
Give me your hand, she said. Not the opening side -- the back of it. She affixed a tiny red heart sticker between the tendons that pop up to to my pointer and middle fingers. I gave you the littlest one because it's the cutest. She lackadaisically dropped the sticker sheet to her bedside table. Now read!
She's not much for patience.
Yesterday was a long day. The lovely husband was up in New York and I left work early, got to the girls' school early enough to get a front spot in the carpool pickup line, waited, got the girls, went back to work to pick up G, who couldn't have been picked up when I left because it was still naptime, found us all a snack, and dragged G to the girls' swim lessons for an hour. Then we got home and had all the regular homework-dinner-bedtime madness. It's no fun being the solo taskmaster and yet at the end of it she still wanted to give me a little tangible love.
Three-kids-finally-asleep later, I glanced down and saw the red heart still stuck on my hand and smiled. I cleared dishes, packed up homework, found clothes for the morning, and thought not much of it.
I grabbed for the soap in the shower this morning. Only half awake and post-glasses but pre-contacts, I don't see much in the shower but a bright red spot shone at me from the back of my hand. I shampooed my hair and had a flashpan thought about The Sticker That Never Fell Off, and if I'd wear that heart forever.
What's that? G asked, pulling my hand back out of the fridge. I was trying to unpack his lunch in his classroom's refrigerator, and I was gripping a bowl of red grapes. "It's a sticker your sister gave me last night. Do you like it?"
It's nice. I really do. He used his thumbprint to push it into my skin, confirming and affirming its placement. Maybe it will stick all day, I thought a minute later in the sunshine, walking out the daycare door and toward the main entrance to the building. I smiled at the idea of carrying her heart around my weekday.
Back on the sidewalk at the end of the day, the sun low in the sky, I realized that it was gone.