All It Takes

My sister, Lindsay, was in town for the past two weeks. It was lovely, delightful and just more than Margaret's little three year old brain could handle. My oldest is a creature of routine. She likes to know what is happening, when it is happening and WILL THERE BE FRENCH FRIES? Each night I brush her teeth, say prayers, read stories and then spend the next five minutes answering the same series of questions,

"Mommy, what will we do when I wake up?"

"We will eat breakfast."

"Mommy, what will we do after breakfast?"

"We will go to the park."

"Mommy what will we do after the park?"

"We will eat lunch."

"Mommy, what will we do after we eat lunch?"

And on and on until I have mapped out the entire day, right up until her next nightly interrogation.

While my sister was here, I didn't know the answers to all of her questions. Some nights I told her we would be going to the park and then, horror of all horrors, the next day would hold a trip to the mall instead. She rebelled in typical Margaret fashion. Excessive whining, three in-store, crying, life will never be okay and it is your fault tantrums and, of course, she exercised her toddler right to not eat and be very, very grumpy about it.

Lindsay must think I am raising a very angry, round cheeked troll.

We spent the last weekend helping the little three year old get back to her happy place. Lot's of time outside, a few french fries and the correct answers to all those questions. By Saturday afternoon she had returned from whatever dark, barren, how many times I can make mommy cuss land she had spent the last two weeks visiting. She was smiling again, saying thank you, only crying for one minute and twenty eight seconds anytime I turn off, DORA! Not too bad.

And then yesterday, Margaret spent a half hour "reading" her little sister stories. And my mama's heart cooed and forgave her for the fit she threw in Target and when she ran and hid from me in Nordstrom and the night it took 45 minutes just to brush her teeth. After story time, I took her into my arms and cuddled and danced and told her how much I loved her. Margaret looked up at me and smiled. Her eyes seemed a bit too knowing. I knew what she was thinking,

"Oh, Mom. Is this all it takes? A little pretend reading and I am saint, angel baby? This is too easy. You are such a sucker."

And she's right. I totally am.

Postscript: Viola was perfect the entire time Lindsay was here. So yes, Viola Honey when you turn 16, Mama will buy you any car you want. In any color you want. And then will take you to Paris. For a month.