When we attended our pre-op appointment for Lucas last Thursday, we were informed not to bring any additional children with us on the day of surgery. If the words hadn't been printed on their customary "instructions form," I would have assumed they were spoken just for us--the parents who had both their children crawling up and down their legs as they attempted to carefully read about death, brain damage, and other potential effects of anesthesia. I kid you not (pun not intended)--before we were told not to bring Kyra this morning, it hadn't even occurred to us she wouldn't come along!
Fortunately for us, we have good friends nearby with kids the same ages as our two. We have vacationed together, spent New Years Eve together mourning the loss of our freedom (oh, yes--and celebrating that we could be up every 1-2 hours with our then-babies!), and shared countless hours of play dates and field trips around southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Timothy, the four-almost-five year old in this other family, is far and away Kyra's best friend. He stayed overnight at our house twice when his sister Anna was born, but Kyra hadn't yet had the opportunity to do the same. When we considered our early-morning departure to the hospital, last night seemed the perfect night for Kyra's first friend sleep away night. (She has had the fortune of Auntie Heather-hosted sleepovers, so technically this wasn't her true first, but a friend feels different somehow!)
We arrived at bedtime and it was clear Kyra was in for some fun. Timothy had set up a sleeps-two tent in his room and was all ready for the ultimate camp-in evening. I don't know whether I was anxious about the surgery, her sleepover, or both, but I found myself giving more instructions than I had intended. I was planning to follow Matt's lead and be totally casual, modeling for Kyra that sleepovers are just boring, every day kinds of things that most everyone does. Instead, I was quizzing her about using her words if she felt sick, if she felt sad, if she had to go to the bathroom but was worried about flushing the toilet. On and on....thankfully Kyra's joy wasn't in any way dampened by my extensive grilling! Kyra was spared by our desire to get home for the Oscars, so we popped out nearly as quickly as we had popped in.
When I called post-surgery (the stories of which we will save for another day--suffice it to say, Matt is a saintly parent for watching his son go under anesthesia, and Lucas is a superior patient; all is well with that adorable right ear), Kyra had absolutely no interest in speaking with me. I should have taken this as the first sign of what would greet me in the afternoon when I picked her up. Instead, I coaxed her into talking to her brother on the phone so I could hear a word or two about her night. Melanie filled me in on the gaps: French toast sticks for breakfast, a short time playing outdoors before everyone became too cold to stay out, and the infamous brother/sister sort of arguing Timothy and Kyra are known to do. Typically this is the "who is taller (Kyra), who is older (Timothy), and what does this say about who will be grown up first?" line of reasoning and debate. I begged for a few more hours of relative peace at home for the still a little bit grumpy Lucas and went off for my own nap.
I went to pick Kyra up late afternoon and things had soured a bit for Melanie. Timothy had just slammed Anna's finger in the door and she was trying to decide whether to go to the emergency room or the pediatrician. Kyra, meanwhile, had decided she wanted to live there--forever. Though I was able to get her to the car with relative ease due to Melanie leaving simultaneously with both her kids, it was a teary ride home (and an outright sob-filled evening by the time we arrived home!) as Kyra faced the transition from the newness of life with her friend to the same old, same old at home. She exclaimed over and over how she hadn't missed us one bit--not for an instant--and she was even able to flush the toilet on her own. (Note to self--stop flushing it for her at home if she is so obviously capable!) She walked through the door to a delighted brother and declared that she wanted to go and live with Timothy and his family forever. She never, ever wants to live with us again.
This routine catches me off-guard every time. (Kyra has the same trouble with transitioning home from Auntie's house.) She is reserved and parent-centered enough that I would expect her to come rushing to our arms, ecstatic to return to the comfort and safety of home. Clearly behind her quiet exterior is a girl who craves change and adventure. (Let's see if this pans out when she's in her twenties!) Kyra's shift to home is a storm we simply must ride out. My best attempts to talk with her, reason with her, question her feelings so I can better understand them are futile.
By bedtime she was exhausted, curled up against me, forcing her eyes to stay open as I read one story to her from her Highlights magazine. Rarely one to admit exhaustion, she uncharacteristically exclaimed, "I'm so tired. I think I could go to sleep right now." We said prayers, she linked her arms around me, nestled into my shoulder and fell asleep. Perhaps we're not such a bad crowd to return to after all....