Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The things I miss

wild child

Dear Annabel,

When we returned from our Maine vacation Sunday evening and your amah and papa brought back your healthy (and suspiciously larger) goldfish I was a little taken aback by their exclaimations in my direction.

I had expected them to tisk over the sun exposure so painfully obvious on your lower arms and cheeks. I expected them to hiss inward upon seeing the angry, red striped wound on your upper arm, which from here-to-fore will be known as the "boogie board accident of 2008."

Not a word of recrimination.

Instead they looked at me and exclaimed how "beautiful" I looked. How much younger and rested I appeared even though I must be tired from the travel.

Immediately I was suspicious of their compliments. "They always say I'm too thin. ... Do they think I've gained weight? Do I look old to them?" I don't feel any different. Maybe it's just new shirt I bought for the trip - the seablue, overdyed jersey - that gives me a little restful glow."

Sad, really, I can't take a compliment. I try to shut down the thoughts as they come. They won't do any one any good.

As I relaxed into the idea of life returning to normal, regaining my unhealthy demeanor, your grandparents marveled again at how much you and your brother had grown and changed in a week. They spoke of how they missed you. They laughed about how "awful the fishy food smelled. They got a big charge out of watching Silas tottering toward them with a new steadiness and listening to you talk about finding the doll bed of your dreams at the craft fair your daddy's school held in the center of town.

My mind wanders back to the compliment. Tomorrow is Monday and the everyday starts again, this time with new twists:

You are worried. Summer camp and swim lessons start on Monday. You will have to meet new people, form new friendships. You tell your father you are frightened but don't mention it to me.

In the morning, on our way to the sitter's house, you tell me that you are scared; that maybe people won't like you. That it will be lonely. You beg me to go with you.

But I can't. I have work. Always work.

Instead I stay a little later at the sitter's house and talk about the choices you can make if things don't work out. "It's OK if you don't want to stay. A counselor will call Terri and she will pick you up."

Terri and I trade several phone calls so I can be there in spirit. I know what she knows: you are having a good time. No mention of leaving, you are smiling all the time, even as she sneaks away once you are engrossed in play.

She is there. I am here. I envy her.

I look forward to Saturday when you start dance class. Finally, something I won't miss.

Love and embarrasingly loud kisses,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Stranger,
Welcome back!
I missed you so much...
and this post was so deeply sensitive...I had to hold back my tears by the end of the letter.
You are beautiful inside out
Happy return to your daily routine