"What are you doing down here? You are supposed to be in bed."
"But nobody will snuggle me." she said in a waivery voice, resolutely holding back the tears.
"Honey, mommy is working." I offered a little weakly, and then to defend myself, added, "And I snuggle you almost every night."
"But I want you to snuggle me now." she answered in an almost helpless tone. Not whiny or annoying. Almost matter of fact. Her face melted then, and she bowed her little head and let herself cry. I suddenly thought of a little 'ponder' I had earlier this week, about how little ones don't really have a concept of time, and of the future. It doesn't matter when the last time was, or when the next time will be. They are creatures of Now, and this moment is the only one there really is. Especially when you are four.
I finished tapping a nail into a loose slat on a small work bench, and then said, "Okay." Not like, I give in, but more like, You know what? You're right.
She took my hand as I led her up stairs (and in this Now that we are in, her hand is still so small). I didn't have to tell her to get in bed. She laid down and I sat beside her, and leaning over her, I rested my elbows on each side of her shoulders and held her face in my hands. She still looked worried, and I know it's because of all the nights I have had "things to do", hurrying through the goodnight routine. She doesn't trust that I'll stay. I kissed her face; cheeks first, then eyelids, then chin, nose and forehead. Her tight little mouth finally relaxed and I did the rounds again.
"Close your eyes," I said, thinking she was so tired she might drift into sleep in just moments. She shut them, but immediately one hand reached up and held my neck, the other grabbing my earlobe. I watched her strain the way little ones do as they try to keep their eyes closed, eyelashes fluttering and pinching tight. I stayed. She rubbed her thumb on my earlobe over and over, even once her eyelids had relaxed and her face slackened a little. I whispered I love you, and those little eyes popped back open and she held my ear with just a little more fervor.
So I stayed.
Not long. In another two minutes I whispered, "Goodnight", and she let go of my ear and rolled over, tucking her hands under her chin. That was that.
I have kind of lost my organizing momentum now, and the studio will wait a few days more. Not everything needs to be done right Now.
But some things do.