Sometimes The Boss's hold on sanity seems tenuous at best (though perhaps this can be said of all toddlers, and, more than likely, a vast majority of adults). In no instance is that sense of detachment more apparent than when horses are involved.
To hear The Boss talk, you would think she has a horse. She will converse at length about her imaginary equine. Once I came home from a meeting only to be cornered in the bathroom by The Boss as she regaled me with a long, drawn out story involving the horse kicking down a fence. There were cows and sheep involved, too. And hay.
When the Boss is sad or uncomfortable in a situation, she looks immediately for this horse. "Where's my horse? I can't find my horse!" The hysteria grows with each syllable; the pout becomes more pronounced. Her lips throb beneath wide eyes.
It's disconcerting to watch her search for something that doesn't exist. I can figure out what she's thinking when she reaches out for a hug. I understand what "I want to go home" means, even when she's already there. But this epic quest for her horse renders me helpless.
Today, I thought we found one. Two of them, actually. This week's playgroup was held at a house with a pasture and riding ring on its property. We brought the kids out to say hello and goodbye to the horses on our way out. But instead of warming up to these creatures that she talks about incessantly, The Boss backed away.
"She's afraid," I marvelled to the rest of the group.
"I'm not afraid." She looked up at me with defiant eyes. "I'm never afraid!" There was a strength to her convictions that did not jive with her small, wavering voice. "I'm never afraid!" She turned toward the empty riding ring and walked in that direction, away from the snuffles and thumps of the two real life horses. I followed her.
"That's where the horses jump," I said, bending on one knee to her level.
She nodded. This pleased her. She relaxed. Her back was turned to the whinnying reality around which the rest of the children were still gathered with their mothers.
She stood in front of the ring for a long time, watching imaginary horses leap over logs painted white.
"Horses jumpin," she chortled, her breath a contented and audible sigh.
Cross-posted at New England Mamas. It's new! It's improved! Stop by to see what the other frosty northeasterners have to say.