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The Very Hungry Child

One Monday morning, the warm sun came up...

and POP, out of bed came a tiny, very hungry child.

She started asking for some food.


On Monday morning, she ate a single bite of toast and immediately turned her nose up at it like a child queen who assumed the throne after losing her overly-indulgent parents to the Plague.


She was still hungry.   


On Tuesday morning, she ate one bite of toast then asked for eggs sunny side up and you made them for her knowing full well she was only interested in the aesthetic of sunny side up eggs. When you set the plate before her, she said, “These are too wet,” and she looked at you like you were foolish, though that definitely could have just been you projecting.  


She was still hungry.


On Wednesday morning, she ate two bites of oatmeal, then asked for cereal, making you say to yourself, “Then, why did I just make you oatmeal then?” but you poured her some Cheerios, poured yourself a glass of wine, then poured the wine in the sink because it was technically 8AM. 


She was still hungry.


On Thursday morning, she ate three bites of cereal that made her teeth too cold then she pushed her bowl away from her with the indignation of someone fasting for a contentious political cause. “I love you,” you told her, “But Mommy goes to jail if you don’t eat something.” She ate one more bite of cereal, then you gave her four sips of your protein shake because why freaking not?


She was still hungry.


On Friday, she ate five bites of oatmeal and then went to her Valentine's Day class party, where she ate one cupcake, two snickers, three Twix bars, four packets of M&Ms, and five butterfingers, before a teacher casually buckled her in her car seat at carpool like, “Good luck with all that.”

On Friday afternoon, she broke one urn containing the ashes of a beloved relative, two pieces of antique jewelry, three plates, four crayons, and a belief system you’d held since childhood about what was good and right and just in the world.


She was not hungry, but you were very tired.


On Friday night, she had a stomachache, and you had a headache, so you put her in bed at 8PM. As you turned the bedroom light off, you said, “What are you muttering to yourself over there?” and she looked at you, pupils fully dilated even in the darkness, whispering, “My brain is on fire.”


On Friday night, four minutes later, she was standing at the foot of your bed asking for a cup of water, so you picked her up and walked her back into her room again. As you tucked her back into bed, she fluttered her eyelashes on your cheek, saying, “This is how butterflies kiss. This is how butterflies say, ‘I love you.’”


And as you shut the light off once again and closed her door behind you, you were still tired, but you thought, “Maybe it’s okay if she’s not a butterfly yet.”