Trying to reason with a six year-old works about 15% of the time, which is a good enough success rate to justify an attempt.
"But dad lets me and Rose stay up to read!" she protests.
This would not be among the 15%.
"Okay," I say, but draw out the word with a sigh, so it is very clear that I am making a sacrifice here, "but just for a little while."
I scoot sideways into the bottom bunk next to her while she settles in with a flashlight and her chosen reading material.
"This is Prince Caspian, one of the Chronicles of Narnia."
As soon as she says it, my mind hurls a memory to it's forefront and I smile.
She was only about three at the time, and sitting on my lap in a movie theater. It's one of my fondest memories of her at that age.
The lights dim and the previews start, but Caelia is not participating in the settle-when-it's-dark agreement between movie-goers. Not one bit.
"I'm fursty! I'm so fursty!" she "whispers." For any of you who have heard a three year-old "whisper," you understand how the quieter they try to be, the louder they actually are. (This phenomenon, unfortunately, does not leave us as we grow, but only manifests itself differently.)
Down the row comes the closest community drink cup (Yes, even now, no one gets their own drink cup when my family goes to the movies.) to quench her painful "furst," and, more importantly, to quiet her so as not to disturb our movie-neighbors.
Once the paper cup is in both of her hands, there is quiet, apart from the loud breathing and humming sounds, which escape between large, satisfying, three year-old gulps. I move in my seat, getting comfortable and squeezing her a bit, thinking, "How nice it is to have a three year-old on my lap. She's so sweet."
Silence interrupts my thoughts - the breathing, humming, and gulping has subsided.
"I'm hungy! I'm so hungy!" she, again, "whispers."
Down the row comes one of the two oversized popcorn buckets.
"Om, om, om, om, om, om," she says (yes, says) as she crunches away. At this point, I'm even more concerned about the movie-neighbors - the movie has just begun.
"Caelia, you need to be quieter. People are trying to watch the movie," I whisper, considerately.
"I'm dust eating! Dis is how you eat!" she retorts, apparently offended that I would accuse her of doing anything purposefully disruptive.
I can't really help but laugh.
About ten minutes later, she exclaims, "Who's Pince Caspeen?!", frustrated because the plot is not introducing/developing this character quickly enough for her liking.
Then there are the many lap-changes, demanded as she decides she is bored with her current seat.
"I want to sit with Unkew Mahco!" (Uncle Marco) she says, and we do as she demands - a movie theater is not really a place to start an argument.
Perhaps my favorite is when Susan (the character) tells one of her brothers to "shut up." Caelia, shocked at the explicit nature of the dialogue, announces "Oh, she said a bad word!" It takes me a while to figure out which word, exactly, is "bad." Leave it to a three year-old to expose desensitization.
All of this played in my head until Caelia had finished reading a couple of pages to me. Her eyes were tired because I really had kept her up too late. She put the book away and pulled the covers up to her neck. Then, just as she was starting to doze, and I was looking at her all sentimental-like, she wiped her runny nose with her hand and then, with the same hand, hugged my head.
What a shame it is that we, as adults, retain so little of that natural candor. The older we get, the better actors we become. We learn to eat and drink quietly; question, demand, and judge only in our heads; and use tissues, all so that the world can be protected from both our noises and from our runny noses.
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