On Sophie’s Cuddles, Discovering the Joy of Reading and Growing Up

Sophie has always been our resident cuddle monkey.  I’ve written about her propensity for hugs on many occasions over the years, and until Saturday night, it hadn’t occurred to me that my little monster has not been as cuddly as she used to be.

One of Sophie’s best friends slept over on Saturday night.  They had a grand time together, as they always do.  But at 2 am, I heard the pitter patter of Sophie’s feet as she opened the door to our bedroom, close to tears.  “My stomach hurts,” she cried.  After an unsuccessful attempt at throwing up, I asked her if she wanted to sleep in our bed.

I never invite her to sleep in my bed – she’s always invited herself.  But I realized through my haze that if she accepted my invitation it would be the first time in many months that she came to our room in the middle of the night.  And I also realized that this might be the last time she’d come into our bed for a very long time, if not ever.

Germs be damned, I thought to myself as she crawled under the covers next to me and I held her close.  About 20 minutes later, she jumped out of the bed and ran for the bathroom where she proceeded to empty her stomach of its bothersome contents.  And with the puke, the magical moment had passed.  She returned to her own bed and her friend, and woke up the next morning feeling happy and energetic.

As I reflected more on Sophie’s increasingly rare visits to our bed, I realized that she hasn’t had night terrors in ages, either.  I also realized that she no longer simply offers up her amazing cuddles.  I have to ask for them.  And although she’s not yet at the point where she rolls her eyes when I ask, I have to wonder whether that’s around the corner, too.

Since starting the 3rd grade in September, she’s become a reader.  I never thought I’d see the day when she’d eagerly talk about a book and sit on the couch, immersed in the words, for more than an hour at a time.  But that day is upon us and it’s glorious to see.  Reading has started to replace TV.  Not entirely, mind you.  But enough so that I no longer find myself chiding her for watching the mind-numbingly stupid shows she’s been attracted to in the past.

Thanks to the reading, her vocabulary has also taken off.  She’s using big adult words more frequently and I can see how proud she is to say them aloud.  She received a dictionary in school the other day and when I proposed that she leave it at home this morning so that her backpack would only weigh one ton instead of two, she decided to take it anyway because “this way I can look up words I don’t know.”  Has Chloe been indoctrinating her little sister while she’s sleeping?

Sophie’s also starting to make her way around the Internet to research her homework. We’ve both reached the conclusion that she does better trying to figure things out herself than when I get involved and inevitably lose my patience when she claims not to know what to do.

Our resident dog whisperer has also revealed herself to be a voice of reason when it comes to Truffle, the canine maniac.  When the puppy was misbehaving the other day and I miserably failed the trainer test by raising my voice and getting frustrated, Sophie calmly approached Truffle and got him to listen, gently caressed my arm and said, “Mommy, stay calm.  It’s ok.”  Yes it is, my sweet Sophie, yes it is.

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