Just the Two of Us

In my short three years of parenting two daughters, I have been told several times by well-meaning advice-givers that I should make time to have individual time with each girl. Easier said than done. For one, there is only one of me. Second, Riley won’t have it.

In each of the few instances, I have been able to plan one-on-one time with her, she has promptly asked, and then insisted, that we pick up Maddie. She was appalled that I would even think of leaving out her sister. While I admired her caring and inclusive big sister nature, it has also been frustrating. You see, Riley is not a talker. She is not forthcoming with personal information and shares very little about her day. Her emotions are not worn on her sleeve, and you often can’t tell something has bothered her until she brings it up six months later. Maddie, on the other hand, is a talker. I know every emotion she feels, and most conversations are instigated by and center around her. If I could only have some time with Riley, I thought, she would tell me more about what is going on in her world.

The goings-on of her world have been many lately. Her routine is new, her friends are new, and she has developed a broad sense of her likes and dislikes. I was desperate to learn more about her new world and how she felt about it. So, when the opportunity presented itself to have alone time with Riley, I snatched it and crossed my fingers.

We had the whole day planned because, as it turns out, Riley is very much my daughter. She likes her days planned well and each step of the day executed with efficiency. She also loves the outdoors, so we settled on visiting McCormick’s Creek for a morning of hiking and trail running followed by a free Pizza Hut pizza she earned for completing her school reading log.

We had a rainy start to our morning of outdoor adventure. I showed Riley how to hide under trees to avoid the rain, and Riley made me stop at every informational sign along the way, adamant that I not skip any highly educational section. She inherited that trait from my parents. With no one else braving the trails that day, she was able to hold Savannah’s leash. Her day was made.

The pizza, earned with hard work, was delicious. Unfortunately, in true Riley fashion, the leftovers were dropped on the floor on the way out. The rest of the day was spent after-season Halloween shopping with my mom, where she enjoyed the attention I was able to give her as she begged for everything in the store. We had some time on the way home from shopping to pick up Maddie, but she decided that Maddie would be happier having an afternoon snack and outside recess with her friends. These were things she truly enjoyed when she was at ABC Academy, and she truly meant her statement.

At the end of the day, we had done everything on our agenda and had a very low-key but fun day. She shared nothing new about her world, but I did learn that she is much more like me than I thought. And, if that’s true, then the time spent together meant the world to her.