AN UNEXPECTED VISIT
I sit on the floor with Paige and Eli, next to her birthday presents. Eli hands Paige a box wrapped in white paper with pink birthday cakes. She examines it and touches the shiny paper. “Pull the ribbon,” Eli encourages. Paige reaches over and tugs but nothing happens. “Do you want help?” Paige nods and Eli starts the ribbon for her.
Carole and Payton sit to our left and the rest of the family sits on the couch. Andrew stands in the corner snapping pictures. Payton inches forward, eventually sliding up next to Paige. Paige reaches for what looks like books and Payton snatches it before Paige can get it.
“Payton, give them some space,” admonishes Andrew. She ignores him. “I understand you want to help, but I’m taking pictures and I can’t see.” Payton slides back a couple inches. She reaches for a bag overflowing with tissue paper and starts tugging at it.
“Payton…” Andrew warns her.
“Paayyton,” Carole calls in a baby voice, patting the floor. “Come back by me.” Payton crawls over and sits next to Carole.
“I’ll keep her over here with me,” Carole promises. But I have to shoo Payton away a number of times before Andrew speaks up.
“Payton, sit on the couch next to Nana.”
“Oh, she can sit next to me,” Carole jumps in.
Yeah, that’s been working.
Andrew shakes his head. “No, she needs to sit on the couch.”
Payton’s face turns red, her lip quivers and tears begin to stream down her cheeks. She stands up and moves to the couch as though she is walking through a river of glue. We ignore her tears and she amps up the intensity.
“Payton, go to your room,” Andrew tells her, voice tight.
Payton shrieks and runs from the room. Carole watches her, lips pinched. A moment later the girls’ bedroom door slams and the screams start.
When the party is over and the kids are having quiet time, I tell Andrew, “We really need to figure out things with Carole.”
“I agree. Did you see how pissed she was when I sent Payton to her room? Carole didn’t say anything but you could tell.”
“I think we should plan out the next visit,” I suggest. Andrew nods his head.
The next visit ends up being completely unexpected.