I was washing dishes and Aria wanted me to come with her as she gave her dolls a stroller ride. I off-handedly asked if she’d fed them dinner yet. She looked quite concerned and immediately got to work.
She washes her plastic food in the sink and gets a stool to get atop her little kitchen to grab some plastic plates.
Then she carries a plate of food and a baby to the dinning table. First she pushes the plate onto the table and then the baby right next to it.
She returns to her kitchen to get a second plate and another baby.
There you go babies! Got you some good food to eat!
I’m already stunned and think she’s done, when she goes to get a third plate.
She sets it on the table then comes back to push her final baby in her stroller to the table.
I didn’t forget you baby. You just had to wait your turn!
She adjusts the babies until everything looks good.
Then she looks over everything.
Dang! She realizes. I missed something!
She goes back to make another plate of food.
Babies can’t eat alone, of course!
She heads to the table to join her little family with her own plate of food.
I’m about to snap another picture, imagining this remarkable, picturesque scene.
A soothing British voice cuts across the room.
“Warning! The alarm may sound. The alarm is loud!”
Aria drops her plate of chicken, steak, and ice cream.
She cries out for me, stumbling about, her eyes wide with terror.
“MOMMY!” she wails.
I leap up to the ceiling to silence the alarm. DH’s steak sizzles in the background. Wafts of garlicky smoke float up all around me.
I pick Aria up and she winds around me arms and legs like a baby chimpanzee.
Urgent and full of emotion, Aria points fervently at the stairs.
I rush up. She’s probably right. We should get away from the smoke.
She points frantically toward the master bedroom.
“How about we go to your room and read books?” I suggest.
She practically drags me into my bedroom.
She insistently points to the bed.
I sit down.
Impossibly, she winds even tighter around me.
And then she just breathes. Her heart races like it did when she was a little cashew in my womb.
In and out and in and out.
I wonder if she is asleep after a while, but for thirty minutes she clings and stares at nothing. I stroke her hair and whisper soothing promises in her ear.
“You’ll always be safe with me, little one.”
“I’m here. It’s okay.”
“I love you.”
Slowly. Slowly. Her heart begins to calm.
Her breathing lengthens.
“Do you want to lie in the bed?”
She nods and we lay out together. She shifts around for a while.
“Do you want me to turn out the lights?”
Firm nod. Lights out. Snuggle close.
Every minute or so, she reaches out to touch my face, just to be sure I’m still there. My heart melts.
I’m so lucky. I get to protect and comfort this special little girl. My girl. My daughter. I hug her close. She pulls me closer.
Another half hour passes. Maybe longer. Finally she journeys into a deep and peaceful sleep.
And that’s how Aria survived her first real brush with fear.