Sunday, 20 May 2012

When Your World Fell Apart

She promised to be your best friend forever, till she forgot and went off to play with another, leaving you behind. You waited, patiently, calling out her name. Then you ran to her, but couldn't catch up, and soon you became tired, sat down on the wooden bench and cried.

Later that night you would complain about the sliver in your leg from that wooden bench, and you would cry again. You would bring me back to the beginning of that day, to that playground, to that spot where she broke her promise and I would be there watching but unable to fix. You would then ask,
"Why does everyone have a best friend but me?"and I would try not to pause as I worked to repaint a reality, telling you that what you saw, what you felt, what you believed to be true in that moment, was wrong.

Later, I would lay in bed with your father and ask him what I had done or what I had not done that brought you to that spot. What club I didn't force you to join or play group you didn't take part in.  When we disagreed about the answer, I would turn my back to him and turn back to my book, in my bed, but I would still be standing in that playground.

As I brought you, my kaleidoscope girl, skipping to school, turning, spinning, with hands grasping at the falling light. I watched it fracture and disperse around you, before rejoining you and your ever changing form. I pointed to the colours. I pointed to the intricate designs. Your beautiful bits and pieces. But you turned away from your detail, preferring instead to count by twos and hop over cracks in the pavement. So I listened quietly and I walked quickly until we reached the school gates, where you stopped, stood silent and stared. I followed your stare and I saw her. I bent down, fixing your cardigan and pulling up your fallen sock, thinking up the magic spell I would whisper in your ear, the scaffolding to make your world right again.

And as I thought, and thought some more and as I started to talk with nothing to say, she walked to you. She took your hand, and you smiled. She had been waiting for you. You walked away with her,
whispering, giggling as best friends do.

I walked to the wooden bench and I sat. Throwing down the glove, I glided my fingers across the wood. The challenge ignored. It was not the same bench I remembered when my crossed ankles and patent leather shoes created shadows that swung across the ground.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

When I Couldn't Fake a Mary Poppins

You hit me! I cannot believe you hit me. You little s**t.  How dare you! Ouch! by the way. This is not how it is suppose to be.

I watched Make Room For Daddy and I Love Lucy. They weren't hit by their children. The Partridge Family-Single  mom odiously ogled by her manager, and Brady Bunch- blended family, hormones brewing, and let me say, none of those children ever hit their mother.

Don't you know that I carried you for nine months.  I know that has been said before, but it is still true.  Nine months it took to create stretch marks, gain fifty pounds, cause my bladder to spasm endlessly, where I couldn't sneeze without wetting my pants. My fat feet with broken arches barely fit into those stupid flip flops as I waddled, sweating profusely through the summer, till you decided it was "time."

Three hours my feet pushed at stirrups, not to mention the fifteen hours prior of deepening, developing pain I laboured through. Three hours, I was told to breathe, three hours, I heard "almost there." then "forceps may be an option and may need to consult with doctor." In my semi-conscious state, I watched the midwife push that little red button and I watched a woman, only slightly bigger than that tiny red button, rush into the room, stand on a stool, push my chin to chest and like a military sergeant and shout "Push!" and I did and out you finally came.

That is not to mention sleepless nights, high fevers, endless profusely, projectile poo and sucking at my boobs with such tenacity that they very quickly turned into wrinkly pancakes, which even the wonderbra couldn't save.  So, yes, I have the right to tell you to change into your pyjamas and, when you struggle and when you moan and when your neck muscles stretch out and "eeeee" comes out of tight grimacing little lips as you battle with a button, a button you have undone a dozen times, I have the right to mimic you and laugh.  I have the right to say, "Come on, of course you can do it." And when you approach me, nose to nose, open mouth, so I can feel your little milky breath, screaming, "You are being horrible to me," I have the right to release a nervous giggle. A giggle which is misinterpreted, a giggle which shocks you, makes your mouth open and hand strike.

I don't care if mother earth and all the cosmic forces unite and tell me that I handled that like shit and had it coming. They are wrong.  It is my house.  I am your mother and I am always right, just because. You, however, are a little girl and survive do to my good graces and tolerance and you do not have the right to hit me. I don't care about how frustrated you are, about poor impulse control, about being six.  You cannot hit me.

You are lucky to have the mother you do.  I could have said, "Watch who you hit, they might hit back." And stare at you with such intensity that it would melt ants on the pavement.  OK, maybe I did, but before I could say anything else stupid, I stood up and said, "You do not hit your mother.  I am going to leave and give you a few minutes to think about what you just did."

I heard the volume of your wails increase. Your attempt at influencing me as I considered your punishment.  It did not work.

After your sister had two stories read and a snuggle.  I felt more in control.  I left her room and reentered yours. I sat on the edge of your bed and made my first attempt to deal with the situation. You, pulling your quilt up and over your mouth so all I can see is your huge reddened brown eyes and a little nose. I start in my most grown up voice: "I am not a friend or another child on the playground, you do not hit me."

Your reply: "So I can hit my friends and kids on the playground. I didn't think that I was allowed to do that. That wouldn't be very nice."
My response: "Your certainly are not allowed to do that.  I never said that."
Your reply: "You did."
Mine: "Did not."
Yours: "Did."
and mine: "Did not. Let's move on."

The second attempt:
"This is a kind house.  We do not hit each other in this house; nor do we scream at each other." I explain calmly.
"You scream at me." You answer.
"I do not." I respond.
"You do," adding determination to your voice.
"Do not," I respond again.
"Screamed at me last week to hurry up," your hands fly around to validate your conviction.
"I did not, that is not screaming," I explain.
"It is," you nodded frantically.
"Trust me, if I scream at you,  you will know it," I start to develop a bit of a snarl, my voice slightly raised. This conversation is not going to plan.

Third attempt:
"You will miss out on story-time tonight."
"NOOO," you shout.
"Yes," I answer.

Your lips pucker out, whimpering, chin quivering, breathing in with a snotty nose.
I take my tissue out, ask you to blow and try to stay strong.
"Daddy and Mommy's job is to teach you to be a responsible adult (learned that from Dr. Phil so it must be right). There are consequences to your actions. Do you understand?" Absolute quiet.  "When you do something naughty, like hit your mother, you have to learn that is not right."
You answer, "And that happens by not getting my story," sniffle, sniffle.

Fourth Attempt:
"Mommy loves you very much, more than I can ever explain. So, when you hit me it hurts my heart," I pushed a tear soaked hair from your face. You went into a silent cry, with only broken breath heard.  This one was real, you turned and curled into your pillow.  "I would never want to hurt you, Mommy." "I know pumpkin," I whispered. "It was a mistake. I know you will make a different choice next time." You nod.

"Do you love me still?" you ask.
"Of course, I will always love you.  I love you every second of every minute, every hour of every day of every month of every year. That is just what mommies and daddies do, they love no matter what, but part of loving you is to help fix mistakes."
"I understand, Mommy. I will always love you too. Cuddle?" Arms are held out and spread. We hold each other in silence for a few minutes. I believe that I may have actually taught something, we, you and I, have actually had a "moment."

You picked your head up and place your little hands on my cheeks, "So, Mommy, now that I understand, How about a story?"
I breathed in slowly and laughed aloud. You smiled, raised your brows and waited. "No, bedtime, Darling." I fixed your sheets, kissed your cheek, say, "Night night. Oh, yes, don't ask Daddy, he  will also say no." I turned the lights off and shut the door. I heard you laugh.  I am amazed at how fast things can change.

Leaned against your door, I realised that this time would not be the last time your behaviour would shock me and it  would not be the last time I fumbled and faltered when dealing with it. I wondered about what would make me gasp and go quiet in your adolescence and teenage years. I wondered if one day, I might even be the one questioning your love for me and desperately needing a cuddle. It makes me uneasy.

As I walked downstairs to tidy the toy room. I decided that it best to deal with these things as they happen and simply keep my thoughts on the day.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Quiet Mourning

Be quiet sister, be quiet
the milkless mother
said to the weeping supermodel
as she patted her bullet proof vest
and gave an awkward smile to the camera

Be quiet sister, be quiet
As the camera scanned
amongst the munduls
for the gap, the gap
Where her boys had played
Her three boys

Be quiet sister be quiet
Did they turn to the whistle
Gasping, grasping, cowering
from the mighty metal soldier
who did not pledge dignity

Who entered with a warrior's thrust
Ripping through the walls
through their little bodies
Be quiet sister, be quiet

fingers and toes fingers and toes
that is what I counted when you were born
Did she? fingers and toes, fingers and toes
Did she gather their little bodies to her chest

How long did their wails resonate,
Did their wet cheeks stain the sand
Before disappearing and dispersing
across treaded land
Be quiet sister, be quiet.

Don't be quiet little one,
you are her sister,
we are all sisters
Cry for her, scream for her.
Rage for her,
Be heard