Absence Makes the Heart Grow Territorial

We were sitting at lunch the other day when SK found out that her Uncle Paul will not be moving back to Pennsylvania, but instead will either be settling with his new wife Sarah in Indiana, where she already had a house (and where they live now), or somewhere in Wisconsin. Saoirse’d already known this–at least the part about her uncle not living close by anymore–but I guess six-year-olds just aren’t the best at retaining what they really don’t want to.

“What?!” she said. Her face looked surprised, taken aback, sad. And then about a half a second later, her expression changed into something…grown-up–utterly serious, in fact–and the oral argument began.

“But they have worser weather. Our weather is better.”

She had a valid point.

“And we have more ice cream shops.”

We’re pretty sure Wisconsin’s got anything involving dairy on lock, but stayed quiet.

“We have Sky Zone and Monkey Joe’s.”

I imagined my brother and sister-in-law giving up tailgating on football weekends to bounce around on some trampolines, and bit my tongue.

“And we have a ton of parks.”

She was getting desperate. She paused, thinking, then sighed and shook her head in frustration, and went for broke:

“And more fun.”

There wasn’t much we could do to make her feel better–we’re sad, too, and will miss them more than I’d really like to discuss in a forum that my brother can read and then make fun of me for being too sappy. But we’re also grown-ups, and we know that life is fluid, and people move all the time, sometimes further away than just a time zone or two. Telling this to a kiddo, though, especially one who giggles as soon as she sees her Uncle Paulie walk in the door, and who likes her new aunt an awful lot, is a whole other matter. Dave and I aren’t exactly rolling in siblings. His brother and my brother and sister-in-law are it, and the kids know it.

Saoirse was quiet for a while. She hadn’t touched her food since the conversation started. “Wisconsin??” she said. She thought some more, then closed out with one final, defiant try:

“And they’ll also get blizzards.”

And then she sat back, defeated.

10.6.14. Paul Moving. SK soccer ball

Paul and Sarah are both attorneys. And Saoirse, for the last year and a half, has had everyone on notice that she is going to grow up to be a lawyer, too (though her career choice is merely a stepping stone to her eventual presidency. Those are her words, not mine). She already talks about law school as a matter of fact, and honestly, from where I sat across the table from her that afternoon, listening to her make her point to a jury that can’t really control the verdict, I couldn’t tell you she’s just being a kid with another pipe-dream-of-the-moment. She says she wants to be a lawyer (er, President), and you know what? This dream actually might stick.

It’s enough to make even her favorite Midwesterner uncle shed a single frozen tear into the trim of his new sub zero parka.

 

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