I stopped as she slid off the seat and climbed into my lap where I sat on the edge of the tub. She faced me and pushed her cheek onto my chest. She put her small hands onto my skin and sighed. And she finally said in that young-sounding three year old voice, "I want to be a baby so I can nurse again." Imagine a comma in between every word and no "r"s-- that's kind of how she speaks. This expression of wanting to nurse is very sweet, and it's something she says fairly regularly (maybe once a month or so), so I hugged her and stroked her hair and murmured something loving.
But then she said something else, and this time her voice sounded completely different. She said, "I miss it. I miss you." And I was struck silent. I tried to draw her closer, but no. She slipped off my lap to brush her teeth. She had said her piece and now she was moving on to the next task.
I think she knows we cannot go back. I think she knows how much we love each other despite the ways our relationship changes as she grows. I'm always learning on this job.