21 September 2010

Without Flight

It was hot that day. 

The kind of oppressive heat that wraps around you and makes it hard to breathe, even if you're simply standing. 

There was oil everywhere, oil in the water, oil on the fish, oil on the birds, oil on the news, oil on my mind. "Jesus Christ," I'd whispered to my sister earlier that week, "Have you seen those animals? I can barely stand to look."

14 September 2010

Lunch Box

I'm going to start writing more again, I decided. Because I feel better when I write than when I don't, walking around, writing in my head. Plus my brain is getting totally full and there are hardly any spots left to scribble upon. I have about ten posts that I need to get out. But first, this one. Because it's the most recent.

Little A and I were waiting for her bus this morning. It's still hard for me, you know? Because I want to pick her up and take her back to the house and lay on the couch and read books to her all day. Because I want to make up for all the exasperated sighs that I wasted on her when she'd interrupt me for the 1,000th time while I was working.

We were standing there and I smiled down at her and asked her if she was going to sit with her new friend, B. She's been all excited about B, telling even the cashier at the store, "Yep, and I wide the bus and I sits wif my friend. Her name is B and she's my new friend."

A cloud washed across the skies of her eyes and she looked down.

"What's up, baby?" I asked as I knelt down by her.

"B don't wike me no more and she sayed 'dat I can't sit wif her no more."

"Why is that?"

'"Cause she wanted my lunch box and I sayed she couldn't have it and 'den she sayeddat I's not her friend and now she sits wif someone else and I sits by myself."

I put on my brightest smile, "Come on, I'll drive you to school! It'll be fun!"

"No, Ma. I wikes widing 'da bus. I's just sad when I see B 'cause she was my friend and now she ain't anymore. But I still wikes 'da bus."

We then turned our topic to the dogs and singing and then the bus came and I watched her little head walk down the aisle, get into a seat by herself, slide to the window and wave to me.

I waved back my most enthusiastic wave and watched the bus roll away, turned and let out a sob that surprised even me.

The mother in me wanted to chase down the bus, tell B that no, she couldn't have Little A's lunch box and how dare she! How dare she be so cruel at such a young age! I wanted to call her mom and tell her what B had said to Little A--tell her, it's too soon, they are too young--please, teach her love.

But I didn't. This is the part that I have dreaded. The part where I cannot control her environment, her surroundings, who she encounters. But I can hopefully impact how she treats those around her.

I hope, that if a day were to come that she should pass a "B" on the street and know just by looking into B's eyes that she needed Little A's lunchbox, that Little A would hand it over and never think twice. I will continue to try to raise her that way, despite my raging heart and despite all of my protective instincts.

So that means putting her on that bus, and a lot of other buses, over and over again and trusting that she'll do the right thing, no matter what the world throws at her, no matter if she'll have to sit alone.

And this is hard, people. So painfully hard.

07 September 2010

Looking Back...We'll Have None of That

They are both gone, today.

Big A, off to the seventh grade; still a breath shorter than I, but I'm checking, each night, for the dawn that I know will soon arrive. I've not decided yet if it is the knowing or not knowing that is the worst for me. I probably never will; neither of them are pleasant.

Big A was up at 6:00; I'd been up, of course; I don't recall sleeping. Her lunch was packed and I sat quietly at my desk, reviewing again her paperwork, waiting for her to call for me for something, anything, some sort of advice or help. She didn't. That means I'm doing it right, you know?

We chatted for a moment and planned our schedules--you have practice at this time, I'll get you from that, then a team meeting...finally she smiled at me, "Mom, you have to wake her up, you know."

I smiled my brightest fake smile as I slapped my hands on my legs and said, "I know! Let's go get her."

I felt as though I was dragging the weight of the world with each step. I thought to myself as each movement came upon me, "left, right, left, right." All these years, this moment coming and still, as I paused before I turned on the light, I was not prepared.

When the light hit Little A's face, she rubbed her sweet eyes and then smiled, a smile that could have lit the room had it been dark. "Today is the day!" I sang to her. "I knows, Ma! I'm goin' ta school." (I swallowed all that was rising within me, including the worry that she might step off the bus and not say, "knows" or "ta" anymore.)

We got dressed and took pictures and saw Big A off on her bus, complete with the humiliation of photographing her steps up the yellow wagon. I told her she'd appreciate it someday and thought of how very old I felt when I said that.

Little A and I made our way back in, ate breakfast, braided hair, snapped some photos and it was Time. I watched her blue eyes widen as we pulled into the school. All of her fingers were crossed as I unbuckled her to get out. "I's so excited Ma! I can't wait!" She squeezed me tight as I begged, again, for the world to stop, for just a moment.

On Big A's first day of kindergarten, I recall walking into the walls to try to get out. She had hugged me and kissed me and then turned and ran into her class--she never looked back. I remember thinking that no matter how my heart broke, that was the way I wanted it to be.

I didn't think Little A's transition would go so well. Big A never cuddled, Little A and I cuddle all the time; our hands are always entwined. She will say, "Ma, Ma, Ma, Ma" and when I finally stop what I'm doing, she'll spell out "L-O-V-E." Big A will grab her stomach and feign nausea each time.

I was worried about her worries; worried about her quirks; dreading this moment with all that I had in me. Little A met her teacher, we hung up her backpack, and then she hugged my legs, looked up at me and said, "I love ya ma, but I gots ta go ta school now." And she turned and ran to her chair.

She never looked back.

And now I'm home; where I can finally actually work from home without constant interruptions, without Dora on the TV, without hundreds of requests to go outside, without her here to "help" me and run my shredder.

And the silence is the loudest sound I've ever heard.

Long live the Queens.