I came in from clearing out the garden for winter a few days ago and found Rory–who’d been outside a few minutes before–sobbing at the top of the stairs. Wailing. I ran up–I thought she was hurt–and she took one look at me and ran away, shouting no! No!
Well, that’s never happened before. So I followed her. No! No! I don’t want you!
This is dreadful. Did she come in and feel like she couldn’t find us? Did something happen? I’ve been outside for a while, did she need be and I wasn’t there and now she feels just utterly betrayed?
Meanwhile, Rory is hiding behind a chair. Still screaming.
When I can make myself heard, I try to talk, sitting close. Is she sad? Could she not find me? Did she know I was outside? Does she miss Mama Deena and Baba Mike? NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOO!
What do I do? Get her out from behind the chair and hold her whether she wants it or not? SIt companionably?
About this time I notice she’s eying me a little–I don’t know–appraisingly. And I hear Rob come in. Do you know what’s wrong with Rory?
Oh, yes. What’s wrong with Rory is that she wouldn’t clean the playroom, so she got sent to her room, and then she came down, and then something somehow offended her sense of justice and fair play, and so she went back up and started screaming for Rob.
What’s wrong with Rory is just ordinary, boring, 4-year-old stuff, a little complicated by the incomprehensible, convoluted rules Rory has created within herself for when she will emerge from being sent to her room. What’s going on here is just…nothing.
Rory listens intently as Rob explains, adding that he’s asked her several times to come back down, and that she knows she’s not in trouble. I get up, and Rory throws herself at me. NOW she wants to be held. NOW she wants rocking. Is it that she wanted Rob? I think so–because he was the one who’d offended her, and having me couldn’t fill in that space without him. Or maybe she was playing me. Or maybe both. But what really mattered was that it was just about her, and Rob, and us, and that’s kind of the way it’s been for a while. For the moment, all the cigars are just cigars.