By Allie Wade
The smell of spring inevitably makes me want to clean. It’s that sweet bloom smell, like jasmine and pink floating through the air that feels cleaner and brighter. I decided to drag my semi-newish area rug into the back yard because my neighbor said the sun kills dust mites. When I brought it back in, I think the sun maybe just cooked a little of the halibut juice that my dog spread around one day when I wasn’t home.
She has this problem, as she was not fed for weeks at a time at her last home – the scavenger in her comes out and all of the garbage cans in our house, even the bathroom, have been ransacked. She got lucky with the freezer back with a quarter inch of halibut juice left over floating around. She spread it all over the house. Along with the remaining contents of my Pho from the night before. She ate every last bean sprout.
So now my house smells like warmed-by-the-sun-halibut-juice and kind of like farts, actually. My plan totally backfired. Baylor woke up puking quesadillas from last night at 4am and I don’t think that smell helped either.
Spring is also a time of pre-wedding events and baby showers. How is it that so many people can be pregnant and engaged all at one time? I had heard this year would come. Bridesmaid veterans had passed on their wisdom. “Oh you only have one wedding to go to this summer? Try nine. Just you wait.” Factor in my weekend master’s program and I don’t have a free weekend until September, like, for reals. And I’m not even counting the three ex-boyfriends I have that are also making their love official this summer. How organized… and how rude that they didn’t invite me.
It makes me think of boxes. Moving boxes, little black boxes, wedding gift boxes, tiny boxes on invites that order your fish or poultry for you beforehand… and hypothetical boxes. I begin to panic thinking about how many of my boxes are unchecked and then the panic turns into this force beyond my control. I start planning my own wedding in my head (eloping, really) and hoard Baylor’s clothes in case I have more babies. I start a yard sale pile and then begin pulling the items out of the pile because I might need them with my some-day-husband in a some-day-house that has storage.
And then while cleaning up Baylor’s puke at 4am and having to put everything in the garbage can outside because of the smell, I remember, I’ve checked a few boxes before anyone else in this boxing match, but my boxes are a little out of order. First comes love, then comes marriage… wait.
One could even describe my boxes as unorganized and disheveled, but checked nonetheless. I have the high school friends, the college friends, the couples friends, the boyfriend, the baby daddy, the kid, the SUV, the diploma and the dog. Check, check, and double check.
Spring cleaning this year includes weird stuff that I can’t resist from the thrift store – it needs to be returned in a donation fashion. It also includes locking my cabinets so my little scavenger dog doesn’t destroy more of my shit. And finally, spring cleaning this year will be about reassessing my obsession with checking boxes, and possibly stacking them in an order that doesn’t completely make me want to beat myself up comparing sizes. ‘Cuz comparing sizes is just never a good idea. With anything. Especially not boxes.
By Allison Norris
My final exam for my class is this weekend. It is the end of my first quarter in my master’s program and it flew by. It is alarming that we will start to see real life clients this spring, and that while it has gone quickly, I feel like a changed human after only a quarter in this program.
It’s challenging to acquire knowledge about people, and about challenges or skills that they develop because of a trauma, and to keep it to yourself. Oh your mom has a personality disorder? “Let me tell you about everything I just learned…” doesn’t always go over so well. Or, “Ya, I felt invisible my entire childhood. It’s something I just learned about! Isn’t that great?! My therapist and I are really getting somewhere.” Unfortunately, there are few people in my life that I can talk to about these things without feeling like a therapy know-it-all who refers to “this book in class” every 5 minutes, or like I am seeking something other than a listener. I’m navigating what is appropriate to share, and what is uncomfortable for me or someone else. I’m learning and it is exciting… but sometimes the subject matter can be difficult to talk about.
The sense of family I have developed in my class is also something difficult to explain. For 18 hours per weekend I sit in a group with 14 other people and discuss feelings, imaginary clients, trauma, futures, and fears. These people have become part of my world and are important to me. I’m excited about them and what we are creating. It is another new, unexpected layer in my life, similar to how I felt when I become a mother and was part of “the club.” Sometimes I feel like there’s a culture shock between my class and real life. It’s hard to explain.
Other days I have no idea what I’m doing and have major fear about becoming a therapist. Will I be able to handle what I hear? If someone says that they beat their child, am I going to want to jump across the room and rip their face off? How will I possibly be able to sit compassionately with a physically abusive husband and father? I don’t know. You mean, not everyone is a young, attractive 25-year-old woman coming in to talk about boy problems? These are parts of the job I hadn’t fully considered and that sneak into my brain while I’m in class.
I also want to tell everyone that therapy is not only for someone who “has problems,” but for everyone! You work out at a gym? Why? You get your hair cut? Why? You eat a healthy diet? Why? To take care of yourself. Therapy is no different. We are emotional beings starting in the womb – before anything else. Why wouldn’t you take care of your emotional side?
Ultimately, I am excited to make a difference. I’m excited to share the light that I have with others. I’m willing to sit with someone who just needs to be heard. Being in class is preparing me for the difficult things I will hear, and will teach me how to process the unthinkable circumstances that so many people walk around hiding. Their invisible scars… and sometimes the scars aren’t that invisible at all.
By Allie Wade
I feel like I’ve officially become a mother. Today. It happened. I received my very first “I hate you.”
For a kid who I have never heard use the word “hate,” he sure had a list of things that he hated.
He hated me.
He hated our car.
He hated our house.
He hated our dog. He hated his car seat.
He hated his school.
He hated his shoes.
He hated everything.
He even told me that he wanted a new mom and that he would no longer like to be my son.
This all started at our PEPS group meeting. He had to use the potty but decided that he did not like the toddler potty seat that was sitting on top of the white porcelain circle. I stood in the bathroom with him, asked him if he needed help, told him I would stay or go, offered to find him a different toddler seat, convinced him that the sink would be an absolute blast to use and then started threatening that we would have to leave if he didn’t either use the potty, or go back to our friends.
After 10 minutes of negotiating in the bathroom, I made the executive decision that we would have to leave. Our conversation was going nowhere and we were headed for tantrum-ville with a population of one. Mr. Baylor Wade.
Screaming and crying he refused to put shoes on, didn’t want to stay, didn’t want to go. I picked up all 36 pounds of thrashing toddler and hauled him to the car.
“I HATE THIS CAR! I HATE THIS PLACE! I HAAAAATE YOU! I WILL NOT BE YOUR SON! I WANT A NEW MOM! I HATE OUR DOG! I HATE THIS SEAT! I HATE THIS BUCKLE!”
The bummer with a big kid booster is that he can undo the seat belt. As he kept unbuckling himself I would re-buckle and finally got the car moving so that he would leave it in place.
SCREAMING is all that happened. After the fifth time he told me he wanted a new mom, I turned my blinker on, turned into the grocery store parking lot and calmly said, “ok, Bay, let’s find a nice lady to be your new mom. You can go climb in her car. Sound good?”
Maybe not the most conventional parenting moment, but he looked at me and calmly said, “NO. I didn’t mean it. I don’t want a new mommy. I don’t hate you.”
I explained that I knew he was upset and that I’m sure he was very mad that I made him leave before he was ready, but that words we say can hurt people and that we must remember who we are talking to, even when we get really mad. I explained what “hate” meant and he switched over to “I don’t like my seat…”
I am aware that I may have a few more “I hate yous” headed my way. I’m sure he will be so mad at me that he’ll threaten to run away or tell me how unfair I am. Even though I know it’s in a time of madness and his prefrontal cortex isn’t even connected to the rest of his brain, it still stings a little to know that the little person I would die for could say, “I hate you.” I remember the feeling it gave me when he first said “I love you” and thinking about the day the middle word would change to hate. I thought I had 10 years, at least!
So, if you see us in the grocery store parking lot shopping for a new mom one day, you’ll know why.
Kids…. always lookin’ for the next best thing, including moms.
By Allie Wade
I’m trying to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw right now. I found this cute nook in a coffee shop with exposed brick, vintage furniture and weird inspirational art. Nevermind that my little spot is the upstairs section in this coffee shop and it is appropriately 300 degrees up here. Combine that with my lack of a shower for the last three days and a strong latte, and I’m smelling nothing like I imagine Carrie Bradshaw would. Although, the lid on my travel deodorant fell off inside of my school bag and got all over my hands when I reached in for a pen, so that’s something.
I am feeling very wreck-ish. I just unloaded on my therapist. She was the first person I saw this morning after the icing on my motherhood-this-week cake.
Baylor refused, I mean REFUSED to get out of the car at preschool this morning. Wouldn’t budge. Just “nope.” I bribed him with candy, threatened to call Santa right then and there, told him I would get him a new toy for being brave, that I would share photos with his class of the How to Train Your Dragon Live show that we went to last night… nothing worked. Finally I lied and told him I would ask the teacher if I could stay in his class for 7 minutes. Bad move.
He went inside, we showed dragon photos, and then he started crying. I booked it for the door once his teacher tried to distract and comfort him, and then he stood in the window with his face plastered to the window just screaming, watching me walk to the car.
I got a quick and nasty stomach bug on Tuesday afternoon. I was completely immobile and useless. The only place I felt ok was in my bath tub. While doubled over in pain and submersed in hot water, Baylor woke up from his nap. He SCREAMED for me to get him out of his bed (a bed he can easily get in and out of, mind you). I yelled back that I was sick and could not get him, and that I was sorry, and that he could get out by himself. For 20 minutes I listened to him yell. In so much pain, realizing his will power, and knowing he could scream all day, I got out and lifted him out of his bed. And then I cried.
Luckily, Toby came to the rescue and helped with Baylor while I was balled up on the couch.
The next morning, feeling better, I took Bay to school and was so excited about having three hours to rest while he was gone. 10:15 I got a call to pick him up because he was point five degrees away from having a temperature high enough to get sent home. And so my dreams of alone time were gone.
Our dog keeps drinking Christmas tree water and puking all over our house. Really, like, everywhere.
My laundry is insane.
I need a shower. And a haircut.
Who has time for Christmas shopping?
Oh wait, I have to read 300 pages for my master’s program this week? Sure.
And so, this morning, I was willing to do anything to get him out of my car and into my class so that I could drink this beautiful pumpkin spice latte in peace while staring at the exposed brick in front of me. I have an hour left until I pick him up… that shower is looking like a real possibility.
By Allison Norris
The trickiest part about being a parent is justifying how much lying you should do. Ok, maybe it isn’t the trickiest part, but it can make you feel a little funny, especially while in school learning about how messed up people are mostly because of their parents. Am I going to turn Baylor into a compulsive liar? God I hope not.
The first time I told Bay about Santa I felt like a real crazy person… “and then he comes through our chimney and has reindeer on our roof and elves and lives in the North Pole.”
This year Baylor asked when his birthday would come again the day after he turned three. Cake, presents, friends, and a little attention felt pretty good and he wanted more. I explained that first would be Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas.
“With Santa. And presents. Right?”
He couldn’t have cared less about the Halloween candy or pie after turkey and stuffing. He wanted to make his “list.” So, with the help of amazon.com on my phone, we started making a list of things that Baylor would ask Santa for. We started this list in October.
I don’t love the idea of kids asking for gifts, then they get them… then what? There’s no lesson in this; well, not a good one anyway. I told Baylor about the real meaning of Christmas (my mother made sure to let him know who Jesus is) and told him that it is more important to give to people, especially people who need a little help. He seemed to understand this… and then he asked if we could pull up his list.
I signed us up to volunteer at a homeless shelter in December. And I ordered the Elf on a Shelf. Baylor named his elf Peter the Pants.
For those of you without kids or who don’t know about this miracle of a parenting tool, the elf on the shelf lives in your house to watch your children. He comes with a darling book that explains how he flies to the North Pole each night to report to Santa how the day went. Naughty or nice list. Then he comes back to your house, lands in a new position (when I remember) and posts up to keep eyes on the little people causing trouble.
It started great. I’d throw in a little “and Baylor, you can’t pull Betty’s tail because it hurts her, it’s mean, AND the elf is watching.” It never hurts to have a little extra elf card up your sleeve. He’d remember the elf and give me a little look like, oh yeah, that’s right, presents, elf, Santa…
Within a few days the elf was less of a threat and more about the magic. I can remember thinking until I was at least 14 that fairies in the forest were real and that Santa existed. That small amount of wonder and the fact that nothing has proven that they don’t exist, so why not? The joy each morning on his face when he discovers the elf in a new place validates everything. Why wouldn’t the elf fly? He tells absolutely everyone who comes to our house that if you “touch the elf his magic will lose and he can’t fly.”
I told my therapist about letting Baylor believe that the elf flies at night. She said something like, “Allison, it might feel weird to mislead your child because our job is to fill them in. However, you are the protector of your son’s childhood.”
As the protector of his childhood, it is my job to make sure he knows what magic and wonder feels like. It’s my job to make sure he doesn’t grow up too quickly and that he can experience the joys of being a naive child.
I never want it to be taken away from him. I will seriously punch someone in the stomach if they let him in on any of these perfect little secrets. He’ll know the truth about way too much way too soon. These little pieces of childhood that remind me of being carefree are priceless. If only we could revisit them often and remember what it feels like to believe in fairies in the woods… or magic elves on a shelf named Peter the Pants.
By Allison Norris
I went to a concert with my sister last night. I haven’t been to a show in ages and forgot how late they are. I had a single beer before the show and by 9:15 before the headliner even came on, I was glassy eyed and yawning. And it was raining outside… so that just made it even more sleepy-ish.
Being at the show, I looked around and saw girls in their early twenties with hearts in their eyes. Yes, sing to me, sing to me about wounded hearts and how some day all of this will be better. His words are so deep – they speak to me. Yes. More. I totally relate to you. Take me onto your tour bus. I love you.
While I do love the music of Joshua Radin, I felt like I have recently graduated. Just a little. Maybe it is being in therapy again, maybe it’s because I feel like I’m learning more about myself – both the good and the bad which is liberating, or maybe it’s because I’ve started to care about what is going to happen to me.
I’m reading this book by James Hollis called “The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife.” It’s a trip. This guy is incredibly pessimistic about humankind, generalizes the shit out of everything, and yet has an honesty about the way he puts things that is hard to deny. He says adolescence is from ages 12-28 and I really think it makes sense. He says we all go through major change physically, emotionally, etc every seven years. Think of the changes between 14, 21, 28 and 35. How much more we know, care, and are changed by the hurdles that we faced during each of those ages. He says that many of us just act like adults and still feel like children – if we do what the big people do, then everyone will think I am a big person too. Many of us haven’t properly experienced our passage into adulthood and hold onto many parts of childhood – assuming that with time and age they will go away. He addresses everything about the person like projection, the midlife crisis, basic needs etc, but this part about acting like a grown up really spoke to me.
Living by myself, being a mom, paying the bills and approaching 30, I think I’m a grown up, but I still toss and turn about the same things that I did when I was in high school. Relationship drama, friends who disappoint, the people I have disappointed, who I am going to marry, how many kids I will have, and what I will be when I grow up…oh and what I am going to wear tomorrow and I really can’t wait to see who wins Project Runway. Important stuff. Is it me? Am I doing something wrong since I don’t have all the answers to questions from a decade ago? I found Hollis’s explanation almost comforting, because I’m still just trying to figure it out. At least I’m not claiming to know it all and put it in a box with pretty wrapping paper and a bow. Right? Can you tell I’m in school learning about self care and therapy?! It’s really great.
As teenagers, if we knew how hard life could be, we’d stop looking forward to the rest of it. Heartache, stress, pressure, expectations, and the reality of death would stop us from trying for our fairytale. I so wanted to be a grown up, just to do things my own way… and like those girls with heart-filled eyes, I suppose I’m still just trying to figure out what that is. Life is good and it’s all perspective. To stop trying and stop searching would be sad in its own way as well. Worry and happiness keep us balanced. Searching and exploring keep us young and inquisitive. And as Hollis put it – wisdom is humbling.
I had my first school mom screw-up today.
If you’ll notice, my sweet preschooler is wearing different shoes, a backwards shirt, a red mustache, and a mohawk. This is how he went to school… on pajama day.
Newsletters are sent via email these days. No longer do you get cute orange paper with a pumpkin and a scarecrow on the front containing information about the month. When there is an early release day… or when there is no school… when it’s PJ day… you know, stuff like that.
My preschool mom friend Nancy sent me a text at the beginning of the week and asked me if Baylor was going to wear PJs for Wacky Wednesday. I sent her back a big question mark and so she told me there was something about wearing weird things on Wednesdays until Halloween.
Because Nancy did not want her son to be the only one to wear PJs to class, I told her Baylor would too in case everyone else forgot. We’d be in this PJ day together. I ran downstairs to the laundry this morning and found some semi-clean jammies and brought them to Bay to remind him of the fun day. He was not having any part of wacky Wednesday PJ day. Ok, well, we’ll just do some of the other crazy things that the newsletter said!
After Nancy’s text the other day, I pulled up the newsletter that had been lost in the sea of junkmail, and read about the Wacky Wednesdays . It read, “we will be doing wacky Wednesdays where the kids will come to school wearing PJs, weird hairstyles, and backwards clothing!” I did not happen to notice the side panel where each of the Wednesdays was assigned only ONE of those themes.
We walked into school with a red mustache, a mohawk, a backwards shirt, and mismatched shoes to a classroom full of kids in their jammies. Today, just today, was wacky Wednesday PJ Day.
“WOW! BAYLOR! COOL MUSTACHE! HOW DID YOU GET THAT ON?!” Kids were literally vibrating with excitement when they saw his ‘stache. He felt cool. It was awesome.
Um, that poor mom, she totally missed the whole point and thought the days were combined. Is what I imagine the teachers were thinking. It was not awesome.
Feeling like a loser mom, I dashed back to my car and drove the three blocks to our house. I found the jammies he had denied, and one of the shoes that would match one of the ones he was wearing. I went back to his classroom, hit a car on my quick park job and ripped off the back panel of my bumper, and explained to his teacher that he had totally declined the PJs but still wanted to be wacky, which is why he was all done up. I told her that I’d just put the PJs in his cubby in case he felt left out and wanted to change. Blame it on the kid…
I picked him at 1pm. He was in his jammies.
By Allison Norris
This time of year has always been full of emotions. Summer has come to an end and that rubbery chemical smell of new clothes and shoes mixed with anxiety for a first day of school makes up the majority of my memories for September.
There is an eerie stillness and sense of routine despite the warm fall sun hinting at the recently passed summer. For us Pacific Northwesterners, the impending doom of rain, wind, and clouds lets us know this perfect weather will come to an end all too soon.
These warm days remind me of arriving at college. The smells of the dorms and commons where I’d sit with my new friends checking out athletes, pretending not to care if they said, “hello.” We would lay on the lawn in front of Foss Hall “reading” while watching our classmates and future boyfriends pass by.
This time also reminds me of when Baylor was born. Fall was the first season I was a mother (Ok, technically it was summer, but I was a new mom holed up in my house until fall came). It was the first season that I took him out of my house and into the fresh air. Our first walks and trips to the grocery store in the changing sun.
I cleaned out Baylor’s clothes today. For three years I’ve been holding on to every onesie, sweatshirt, and pair of jeans that he’s ever worn. I don’t know why I’ve kept them. Not many of them are worth any money and I got the majority of them already used. I’ve had an idea that I’d be married and pregnant again so I’d need them. Why waste money on new clothes when I’ve already bought them once?
But in life, there are no guarantees. There are no set plans and although I’d like to think I could put those clothes to use again some day, for now they are only taking up much needed closet space. I sorted through all of them and remembered funny things Baylor had done wearing a particular shirt or hat. Our first playdate with Lila in a cream tractor sweatshirt and the onesie that I brought him home in from the hospital.
It’s these clothes, smells, sounds, and the way the light hits the trees that make me think about each year and all of the excitement that has happened. Another year, another season, and even more new beginnings.
It’s weird to pack Baylor’s lunchbox and watch him wear a backpack. It’s a beginning that will not end until he finishes high school. It’s the start of such a major part of his life. And it’s all started with the fall.
By Allison Norris
It was Baylor’s first day of preschool last week. Photos on Facebook revealed a big week for all parents with kiddos. The same cheesy grin with a new backpack and outfit seems to be the norm as I cruise through my news feed. I, of course, had to do the same and made Baylor stand in 400 different locations with the same sign so that I could capture his first-day-of-preschool-moment forever.
We had discussed, role played, chatted, and talked in great detail about preschool and what a big boy he was going to be. I thought he was pumped. I thought we would walk into that classroom and he’d say, “Laters, mama.” And I’d walk out feeling like he didn’t need me any more and that he was all growed up.
My sensitive boy hesitantly entered and all of the sudden he didn’t speak English, couldn’t see, and forgot how to walk. Lila, his best buddy who came along with us, thought it was her classroom and jumped right in line to wash her hands and asked the teacher where her cubby was. Teach was all like, “who is this girl?”
I walked Baylor over to the hook with his first and two last names and instructed him on hanging his backpack and lunch box and then joining the other kids to wash hands. He listened and then let every kid cut him in the hand washing line. Trying to pump him up and help him out, I told a kid to back off and let Baylor take his turn.
Mistake 1: Let your kid figure it out on his own. Especially when talking to a kid you don’t know in front of their parents.
Bay figured it out and when I realized I had nothing left to do on the parent drop off checklist, I told him I’d see him after lunch. Tears, arms flailing, climbing like a little monkey. Where the hell was the teacher to pull him off of me and let me escape so that he could make new friends, grow, and figure out how to pull up and button his own pants?!
His 34-week pregnant teacher spotted the resistance and tackled Baylor to the floor. Well… he was already on the floor, she just held him there so that he couldn’t chase me out the door.
I waved goodbye and prayed that he would not cry for the entire four hours he was going to be there.
Quickly, 1:00pm arrived and I walked the two blocks in the glorious sunshine to pick up my big boy. The wind had a little chill in it and it made the leaves rustle when it whizzed through the branches. It felt like Fall… and like school. I opened the door and there was his class sitting on the carpet with their backpacks on and lunchboxes in hand. He saw me and looked to his teacher for permission to greet me. She nodded and he jumped up and ran over.
“I ate my lunch! I had snack. LOOK, I drew a circle on blue paper. And I picked you a piece of mint when we were playing outside. We played outside!”
The teachers assured me that he only cried for about 10 minutes total over two meltdowns and that they hoped he was excited for Friday.
He held my hand the whole way home and talked to me about school. Then he fell asleep in his big boy bed and took a wonderful afternoon nap in his t-shirt and a diaper (because he can’t quite make it through a nap without peeing all over the place). I peeked in on his long, smooth legs and his white hair. So peaceful and big… and still such a little guy with so much to learn.
By: Allison Norris
I imagine that being a nanny is a little like being a teacher. Kind of.
You put your energy, passion, creativity, and rules into these growing beings only to say goodbye at some point. For teachers this point is marked on a calendar. A date that comes each year and then less than three months later a new crop of kids join your world and that same expiration date approaches. You become a seasoned veteran at saying “goodbye” and “have a great summer.” They grow and you pass them in the halls noting the changes that they make.
Nannying has no expiration date, unless you totally fuck up, of course, or change directions… but for the most part those little babies that you take care of are like your own until they don’t need you one day. It’s like parenting – on steroids. You have to say goodbye to “your” babies when they graduate from you and head into preschool (instead of college, like your own).
I’ve been nannying a little lady named Lila for a year. I started with her family after going through a terrible ordeal with a family who never paid me, never showed up as scheduled, and completely abused my time. Nervous about this whole nannying thing, I quickly realized that all families were not evil and in fact could become dear friends, and feel like my own family. That’s what has happened with Lila’s mom and dad.
Lila is two weeks younger than Baylor and almost an inch taller. She has curly hair, round cheeks, and is so solid I swear she has 10 lbs on Bay. Her sassy and very bossy personality just blossomed over the past 6 months and she challenges me every day. She calls me “Mommy” because, well, Baylor calls me Mommy and I think it’s just easier to say than “Allison.” She rarely lets me kiss or hug her – but every once in a while she’ll slip her chubby little hand into mine and say, “I really love you.”
She loves snacks, Hello Kitty, the color purple, and singing. She’ll read books all day, tell you exactly what to do, and pouts a little if you don’t do it just right. She tells me “I’m not talking to YOU” when she asks Baylor a question and I interrupt with the answer. She loves wearing Baylor’s shoes and she takes her clothes off to be naked if she can get away with it. She’s silly, beautiful, best friends with my son, and has the best clothes I’ve ever seen. She’s my little Lila Bear.
And she’s moving to Florida with her family in 12 days.
It really hasn’t hit me yet and I’ve tried explaining everything to Baylor. They seem to understand what I’m saying, but I don’t know what will happen when we don’t climb into our car at 7:14am to go to Lila’s house and watch her eat her vanilla yogurt each morning.
To say I’m going to miss her is an understatement. That little girl will have a chunk of my heart forever and a little boy best friend across the country for the rest of her life.