“You want me to walk?”
She ran down the stairs with her best friend, a big smile on her face, long hair flying, eyes… oh no, they have that glassy look. That “I stayed up all night” look. That “I’m going to meltdown the second we leave the party” look. That slumber party look.
She’s said her goodbyes and thank yous, found her shoes and pillow. We have her overnight bag and goody bag and, yes, we haven’t forgotten all-important Kate, her stuffed dog, and Kate’s stuffed animal, a purple rabbit that was once part of a bowling pin set. We’ve stepped outside the door.
She notices there isn’t a minivan parked outside.
“You want me to walk?”
And the meltdown begins.
“I can’t walk! It’s too far! I’m carrying too many bags!”
I’m carrying the pillow and overnight bag. She’s carrying her goody bag and the bag holding Kate and a blanket.
“I don’t want to walk!”
We can see our house from the party house. It’s just a few yards from her bus stop. It’s a beautiful sunny day with more than a hint of spring in the air. She happily ran down here yesterday, burdened with just as many bags, but that was yesterday. It was downhill and she had an all-night party to look forward to.
Now it’s the morning after and the sun’s too bright for her sleep-deprived eyes. She spent the night on a sugar high. She’s crashing, and it’s not pretty.
“I can’t walk,” she whines as she climbs the hill. “It’s too far. It’s uphill. I don’t want to walk. I don’t want to walk. I don’t want to walk.”
We’re at the door and her father’s asking how the party was. She slumps down on the stairs, bags around her feet, bags under her eyes. She’s sobbing and even she’s not sure why. We get her to show us her goody bag, she perks up slightly and tells us about her all night adventure.
They went to a ceramics place. They went to Friendly’s. They made popcorn and watched a movie and played Wii and ate birthday cake and all piled together on the big pull-out couch and no, she doesn’t think she slept because how could she get water if she went to sleep and maybe she slept a little and no, she doesn’t need a nap and we can’t make her take a nap and it’s so unfair, she’s not tired…
I bring her up to her pale purple room and draw the shades and she insists she’s not tired, even as she slumps into her pillows, even as she relaxes beneath her pink-checked sheets, even as she draws Kate close and her eyelids become heavy.
“I don’t want to walk,” she murmurs, and drifts off to slumber at last.