You did something a bit unkind, and I responded by speaking loudly, quite loudly, which was also a bit unkind. The crowd waiting for the next lift heard your full name distinctly spoken through closing doors. This sequence of events pulled at our morning, drawing the curtain against our Mommy-daughter-day. My more than assertive tone seem to direct your chin to me and as you turned, your bottom lip dropped, finger still stuck on the button, and you listened to me say, 'I am sorry, Darling, you disappointed me.' I then gave you the mandatory tilt of the head and a sigh.
"I am not fibbing!"you cried as we exited the confines of the lift, as I grabbed and pulled your hand and pushed through the waiting crowd. You continued to state your innocence repeatedly, louder and louder and I stopped and I yelled your name again, which stopped you and a few bystanders. I stared at you, waiting for an admission and you simply looked away.
I want you to know, you didn't disappoint me. You scared me. You were suppose to be the girl who chose to stand alone, drawing your own circle that you welcomed others into. The girl who proudly brought home the strays, fleas and all, not one who snickered in the playground. I know, dear, that expectation lived next to the expectation that you would speak five different languages and be a chess champion by the age of ten. But, it seemed so reasonable at the time.
I explained to you that kindness was prioritised in our family and that individual differences were to be respected. In my best teacher's voice, I gave examples you could relate to i.e. The Ugly Duckling, Beauty and The Beast. I continued by discussing those who had been excluded from society and your family members who marched for civil rights and then I discussed what civil rights meant and then... you had to go to the toilet and then... your tummy was hungry and then... we went for a milkshake because that is what 6-year-olds drink and as your little eyes fogged up listening to Mommy babble on, as she can do. I put my chin in my hands, tilted my head again and sighed again and said "Should I show you how I can balance a spoon on my nose?" You smiled and our girls' day out was given a second chance.
By day's end, we had managed to run through a park and share an ice cream cone, and the earlier tone had been successfully muted. By the final store, we were walking arm and arm, whispering and teasing each other, giggling. I told you what a good girl you had been, letting mommy finish her errands, which made you smile and I put my arm around you and hinted about a toy. We looked up and that is when we saw her. A very frail looking pensioner seeming barely able to hold up her two foot tall buofant hairdo, held together by old netting. She was just toddling along, swaying from side to side and we parted to let her pass. As I turned to you, intending to ask what could be hiding in there. You preempted, saying, "Mommy, look, isn't she lovely. She wears her hair different to everyone else cause it makes her happy. I think that is nice, don't you, Mommy." I held my head down and sheepishly answered, "Yes, dear."
Later I discussed this with your father and yes, there was laughter, but it was the guilt ridden type.