Friday, October 22, 2010


Olivia was sick this week, and missed school for two days. She threw up a few times, and was running a high fever. When I first knew she was sick, it was Tuesday morning. About 3 or 4 in the morning. I took her in bed, and she was curled up in the fetal position, gripping her belly, and burning up. I was not worried about her, not even a little. I was worried about Charlotte. I knew that within a few hours, I would have to wake her for school, and when she found out Olivia was not going, she would freak. Any break from her usual routine does not go over well with her. If there is sudden change in plans, she throws a fit. Olivia goes with the flow. Charlotte does not even understand the concept.
I envisioned two kids missing school that day, as I lay in bed. I just figured, Charlotte would refuse to go, and between being up most of the night with Molly, and then Olivia, I was too tired for the battle that was sure to come. But I got out of bed a few hours later, and woke her up, and flat out told her, that Liv was sick, and she was going to school. Period. She started to whine, and cry, but I looked her dead in the eyes, and said that if she didn't go to school, and gave me grief, she could kiss her Daisy troop goodbye. She quickly dressed.
My neighbor picked her up. Charlotte was not happy that I would not be at the bus stop, where we always had a kiss goodbye, and I wave to her in her seat, and we blow kisses. There would be no one there, and I know my girl, and I know this would throw her off, for her entire day.
And it did. When she returned from school, she was dropped off, by yet, another neighbor, and she was very upset. Panic set in for her, the moment that the bus pulled up at the bus stop, and she did not see me there to greet her, and take her home. I can understand that feeling.  I remember that split second of terror, when you turn around at the grocery store, and the lady that you are standing next to is not your mother, and she is suddenly gone, and you don't know which direction to begin searching. My friend called to her, and said that she was picking her up. Charlotte listened, and got in her car. When she walked in the door was when the trouble began.
She looked sad. She also seemed angry. We had a brief conversation about her day. She told me that she cried a little at school because she was afraid that no one would be there at the bus stop. She was anxious about it all day. I have reassured her every day, that if I ever could not be there, someone would pick her up, and bring her to me. She would never be left alone. Ever. Yet, she doubted me all day. She went in her room, and began to change out of her school uniform. She mentioned crying again, at school, and this time, I thought she was crying about something else, so I asked, "why were you crying?'
What took place after that was a blur. She began a "tantrum", or even, an "incident", that went on for hours. Screaming, and weeping. She could not even speak. She writhed around her bedroom floor. She was unable to catch her breath. She did not make a bit of sense. I kept my calm, and never yelled. I just listened, and grew more concerned, by the minute. I felt scared for her, and her sadness. I took her in my bedroom, and we sat on my bed, and I held her. She told me that she didn't know if she hated me, or not. That made me sad. She kept saying it, over and over again. Each time she said it, she kept extending her arms out in front of her, and making a heart shape with both of her hands. She was thrusting the shape toward me, making sure that I saw this heart in her hand, but I was unable to understand what she was saying to me. I made me so incredibly sad. 
Last year, the girls took ballet lessons, on Saturday mornings, at the college, here. It was a 6 week program, given to them by my parents. The first day of class, I took them, along with little baby Molly. Liv's class was first. She was with the older girls. She danced for forty five minutes. Then, it was Charlotte's class. She was reluctant to go in, without me, but I reassured her that I would be right there, watching. I stood at the door, and observed her sleek little body, in her leotard, and pink tutu, and smiled. Olivia had to use the bathroom. It was down the hall, so I took her, and Molly. Olivia took a while, as she had on tights, and a tutu, and a bodysuit. She had to undress, and dress. Then she had to wash her hands. It was during her hand washing that I realized it had been quiet for a while. The music from the dance studio had stopped. Holy Shit!!!!! Charlotte's class was over!!! Oh my God Liv, we need to get to her!!! We ran out of the bathroom. I could not get down the long corridor fast enough. It was like a bad dream. 
There she was. All I could see was her red face, streaked with tears.  Her blond hair wet, and stuck to her face. She was being comforted, by a stranger. Another mother. A better mother, who was there for her child. The class had been over for as long as we were in the bathroom for, which according to my estimation, was close to 10 minutes. I couldn't imagine what went through her 4 year old mind. I didn't know what to say to her. She was frightened. She was traumatized. But what was worse, she looked at me as if I had betrayed her. She looked at me like I was a liar.
Is it all that easy? Every breath I take, and all of my days, are for my children. All day, every day. From the moment I wake, every activity I am busy with, is for them. From filling belly's to cleaning their clothes. Keeping a roof over their heads, and the house warm. Clean, comfy beds, and hugs, and kisses. Taking care of them when they are sick, helping with homework. Soothing their fears, and making them laugh. Guiding them through this messy world, and making sure they say please and thank you. Giving them goals, and singing their praises. Being the head cheerleader for them in everything they do. Wanting to beat the crap out of anyone who makes them feel bad.
Is it that easy to wash that away? To place doubt in their minds? One lie can cancel out every truth? Is it all that tenuous? Is it simply that weak, and flimsy? Everything, undone, in a moment?
I think of Charlotte's little hands, connected to look like a small little heart.
I can't get it out of my head.

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