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I am her

The night snow blew against my bay window as I wiped the paint off my yoga mat.


I let my niece and nephew steal rocks from the parking lot so we could paint them.


It became a ritual for us. Swim lessons. Find a big rock. Hide it in your coat as we walk to the car. Pick up soup with bread for lunch. Spend the afternoon creating. Painting. Coloring. Cooking. Cutting paper.


I want this apartment to be as much a safe haven for them as it is for me.


A place to be fully themselves and express their emotions.


Today was one of those days where my niece was needing more attention and her actions followed suit. I walked into the bathroom to find her handprints in black, covering the inside of the door. Black paint covering the sink.


I sat her down on the toilet to discuss what happened. She shut down emotionally and closed off to me as if she wasn't even next to me. It was heartbreaking. I told her I loved her. I understood her. I am her.


I asked her to wash her hands while I cleaned the bathroom door.


After our talk, I asked her to finish her project while washing her brother's hands next.


Her rock was bright blue and his was every shade of color he could find.


Until tonight.


While cleaning up the paint, I realized hers was now painted completely black.

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