Xian is 9 1/2 going on 18. She’s always been an independent little girl. She’s drawn to books and is a total adrenaline junky. It’s been several years since she became less quick to hug, turned her face when you tried to give her a kiss, and seems to want to do everything on her own. Xian asks questions like, “When do I get to go out to the store by myself?” and, “When do I get my own apartment and not live with you anymore?” I’ve always been okay with this and have welcomed each stage as she charges forward on her path to independence.
The girls have been watching the Buffy the Vampire series. They’re on the second season and are completely hooked. I remember, all those years ago, being obsessed with the show. We didn’t have a television so I would binge when I went to my friends’ houses. Our girls get TV night on Fridays. They get home as soon as they can and race to the couch to get all set up. We order in-the same thing every Friday-and then they become lost in the world of Buffy.
Last night was no different. Their eyes grew glassy as they watched episode after episode-how many can they get in before bed at 7:30. We were somewhere in the third episode when Xian began to nudge closer and closer to Frank. She set her hand on his knee and leaned in close. The episode was about a monster who drained the life from children. His eyes popped out of his face. It actually sounds way scarier than it was and the girls seemed fine as they episode ended and we tucked them into bed.
I was laying in bed reading a book. The dogs, girls, and Frank were fast asleep. I love this time of night. . .just me and my book while everyone else dreams away. “Mom?” I heard. I looked up waiting to see if I was needed. “Mom? . . Mom?!? . . . MOM!!!” The shriek grew louder and louder. I jumped up and raced downstairs. Xian was sitting up, drenched and screaming. I leaned in and she threw herself into my arms. She didn’t talk, just held on tightly. After a while, she pulled herself back and leaned back into her bed.
“Mom? Why did that monster’s eyes pop out of his head?” and there it was. My strong, independent, growing up far too fast little girl was scared. I curled up next to her. She sank into my arms and we talked. We talked about actors and make up and stories. We talked about about fact vs fiction-real vs imaginary. None of it was really calming until I said, “Xi, you know I’m here to protect you. I’d fight that monster for you. You’re safe because I won’t let anything happen to you.” It was at that point that Xian kissed my cheek, gave me one last squeeze, and rolled over to sleep. I guess she still needs Mom after all.