I came home from my root canal part 2 (did you know that in endodontics, Asian roots are a thing? Apparently they are. Should I have another root canal, it will be done by an endodontist only. Hopefully the girls inherited Eric's teeth) this afternoon to find Maia quiet and sad. She and Eric had been playing a game when I left, and Eric said he had tried to get her to eat, to snuggle, to talk, but she wouldn't.
I sat with her and tickled her back, which is the thing she loves best, and after a while I asked what was wrong. She whispered, "I miss our other friends," and started to cry.
I felt terrible for her. I held her and told her the things I ought to tell her--that she was starting school next week, and gymnastics class too, that she would find friends there, that we would see our other friends again. I didn't talk right away about the real thing I think was wrong: that Chloë wasn't there. She and Chloë are so close, and they've spent the entire summer playing and fighting and scheming and talking, always together, and today Chloë went away.
She stopped crying after a little while, partly due to a promise from Eric of another game ("The only good things are watching shows, reading books, and playing games," she said not long ago), and I went off to take ibuprofen and get back to work. "I want to go out there right now!" she declared as soon as we mentioned we'd be meeting Chloë's bus soon, and was playful and happy again as soon as Chloë herself arrived.
Chloë had a great time at school, and told us all about it: how the desks had been switched from yesterday's orientation, how they went over the calendar, and how the sight words were all ones she already knew from last year, and they had two recesses but they were only five minutes each, and they went to music where they got to play an instrument.
"Did you miss me?" she asked Maia when one of us mentioned she'd been a little sad during the day.
"No," Maia said. "I missed our other friends. Addie and Raegan and friends like that. Back in Toledo."
Neither of them have ever said, "I wish we hadn't moved." They've said, "I wish we still had a house so we had a yard," and "I wish we could see Addie and Raegan/Malcolm/Hannah and Noah." But they seem to have accepted the move. And maybe it's because of the same thing I've noticed: that our home is defined by our stuff more than our location or living structure, and more than that by being together. I missed Chloë today, too--though of course having needles and bleach in and out of my mouth distracted me from that. But Maia had no such distractions, and her big sister and best friend was gone all day.
They've taken to sleeping together in the full-size bed (nominally Maia's) lately, even though Maia has also taken to whimpering about bedtime being too scary when we leave them and Chloë's complained that it keeps her awake. They slept together tonight, snuggling under separate blankets so they wouldn't fight, and there was no protest from Maia. They lay together and quietly drifted off to sleep.