I arrived to gather Maria from an afternoon with one of her favorite friends. They were in animal print dance-wear bouncing to The Lion King soundtrack.
She was not ready to go, and as I got closer she dashed off. She turned the corner like a rabbit running from a fox and disappeared into the sparkly pink warren that is her friend's well-stocked playroom.
We couldn't find her.
I called for her.
I used my ticked-off Mami voice and said, "You had best come out here right now, Maria Felice!''
"She's a good little hider,'' my friend said, with a chuckle.
I muttered words best described with symbols like &%@! and *&^%$!
Maria finally came out from behind the bookcase. I grabbed her arm, explained in my ticked-off voice that when I call her she must present herself and when I say it is time go, guess what? It's time to go.
"But Mami, I don't want to leave,'' she said, commencing the run-on whine that makes me wish I drank more.
We got to the car and I dressed her down. I could hear myself lecturing and I could. not. stop. I was feeling guilty for the tirade even as the words escaped, but again, could not stop. (I subscribe to the belief no one learns from a tirade so I try not to. Try.)
Why so irked, you ask?
My child is notorious for ignoring me and running when it is time to leave any place – school, pool, playground. And regardless of tactical changes on my part – praise, bribery, threats of life without chocolate and sparkly shoes – she continues. I'm exhausted and occasionally embarrassed by it. Yeah, I know. Now, I am whining.
Anyway, after a couple of minutes of blah-blahing at each other in the car, I asked for silence on the way home. She complied. For a few minutes, anyway.
From the backseat I heard a proud and quiet voice: "I really am a good hider.''
It took everything I have not to burst out laughing. I actually was giddy with the realization that, really, despite me and my moments, there is no squashing this kid.