Monday, February 09, 2009

My bags are packed ... I'm ready to go



I didn't even know she was upset. She was chattering away as I was poking around in the paper bags my husband had brought in from their trip to the store.

Milk,

Orange juice,

Bread,

Eggs ...

She walked past me in her usual flair; with a kind of brisk pounding of feet and a dramatic flounce of hair as she trudged down the hall to her room.

"She's packing ... " my husband said to me a few minutes later as I was putting away the groceries. "She says she wants to leave."

Before she stormed out I had heard her voice chirping away, flittering between octaves "... ip ip ip ip ip ..." as I opened and closed the refrigerator door, "ip ip ip ip ip ip" as I folded another emptied bag and stowed it beneath the island with the other recyclables. "Ip ip ip ip ip ip ip. ..." I really hadn't been listening.

I roll my eyes. I don't want to deal with another tantrum.

By the time I finished and found my way to her room, we bumped into each other at the door. I was going in ready for a fight and she was coming out ready for flight. She'd slung my old drawstring backpack over her shoulder, filled to the brim. The bag was bigger than she was.

She was crying.

The fight had gone out of me when I saw her eyes. She was earnest, and it had been a long day.

I asked her to talk to me, to sit in her room and discuss what had happened. I took the pack from her shoulders when she tearfully agreed.

As we sat on her bed, a tiny lifetime of upset streamed out with her tears.
Upset that seemed to go back as far as the hospital ... when she was born.

"I remember another mother. Not you. A mother who was nicer to me. Who listened to me. Who didn't just SAY she was going to do something she DID it.
That's the mother I'm going off to find."

I listened as the story brought her to my pregnancy with Silas, and how she really wanted a girl ... How she wanted to share her room and her toys, and talk about girl things, and sing girl songs ... and how she got a boy.

"But I was happy because everyone else was happy. I wasn't happy though. I wanted a sister and YOU GAVE ME A BROTHER!

"My real mother would have given me a sister."

For a moment I felt sorry for her. Poor unloved little waif who waits (somewhat) patiently for her mother to get up from behind her computer and get her a glass of milk, damnit, only to have to ask thirteen thousand times. ... Or eighteen thousand, depending on who you ask.

She was right. Everyone wants to hug Silas, they all say how cute Silas is, remark on how funny Silas is, how patient Silas is, how loveable Silas is ... She has become invisible.

I look over at the backpack, it's filled with clothes from her dresser, but not a single toy. She's serious about leaving.

"I'm just a rotten egg," she wails.

When I was her age (maybe slightly older), I ran away from home. Twice.

The first time I got only as far as the front stoop. It was raining in sheets and I didn't want to get wet. The second time I got all the way to the mailbox, where a neighbor, noticing me just standing there with my plaid suitcase (that black and red pattern and faint smell of vinyl forever etched in my mind) packed tight with toys and clothes, asked what brought me there.

I told him I was running away from home. He laughed a little, then mentioned I really hadn't gotten that far. I told him it was as far as I could go since I wasn't allowed to cross the street.

It's hard to assert yourself when you’re five.

Annabel doesn't seem to have my problem though, she just has my number.


"You're not a rotten egg. You know that," I tell her ... hoping something brilliant will come to me as I'm feeling around for an answer that will make everything all right.

It doesn't. All I can tell her is I'm sorry she feels the way she does, and I'll try to do better. I remind her of how her brother lights up when he sees her ... not us but her. And I admit that she has every right to feel sad, and to even demand attention. Fair is fair.

"Why don't you come with me to the store. Your father forgot the lemons. You come with me. We'll get a special and some time to ourselves."

"O.K.," she said unsteadily. "I'll go, but what about my bag?"

"We'll just leave it for when we get back. I'll help you unpack."

10 comments:

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Oooof. I've heard variations of this from my girls but it sure isn't easy.

But there is this: she has a mother who sits down with her, who listens to her, to takes her to buy lemons (to make lemonade?). That is something huge.

My heart hurts for those who try to leave and are yelled at, punished, made to feel terrible, hurt. Someday, they may get further than the mailbox, you know?

Tara Marie said...

Awe.......she is just so precious. I remember the time I ran away. I got as far as you did, and then got distracted by the neighbor gardening.

Next thing I know it was time for dinner.

I have missed visiting your blog.

Gail at Large said...

Annabel is so precocious it's a little scary.

apathy lounge said...

Big thoughts from such a little person! She's a deep thinker, that one!

kimmyk said...

"I remember another mother. Not you. A mother who was nicer to me."

Okay that cut me to the core. If Abbie or Adam one, ever called me "mother" I would be upset cause that seems so formal, and two the whole who was nicer to me deal would make me feel like such a horrible person. I mean, being a mom is hard work...both physically and more so emotionally. Having two lil ones is hard.

I hope you two made cookies or somethin'. Whatcha gonna do when you move? Ack! She's not gonna be too thrilled I imagine leaving her home ya know? Bless her little over the top dramatic heart.

Firestarter5 said...

Annabel
Invisible?
Rotten Egg?

NEVER!

Future Ruler of The World?

..possibly

Binky said...

If she ever follows through with the running away, I know someone who would love to rent an apartment and be her roommate. Annabel and The Boss can pool their resources in the search for another mother.

It's not easy being a kid, but it's no walk in the park being a mother, either.

Anonymous said...

Annabel is a brilliant child with a radiant smile, just have a look at that smile as she sits on Santa’s lap for the picture.
It is sad she does not see herself this way.

We all seek out attention and acceptance even as we grow older and sometimes we need a little more, I think you handled this situation quite well.

There is something new in her life in way of a sibling, weather boy or girl she would have felt neglected, babies are a lot of work and time consuming. It is hard to explain to her now the benefits of having a brother, the games they will play together, her protector that he will surely be…
He is just cute and cuddly right now, she can have her inward satisfaction later when he will be grounded twice as much as she will…boys will be boys!

Later, Kcoz

melanie said...

Wow - what a mind she has. I almost started crying reading this thinking about how there is a good chance I am going to have the same conversation some day.

Mrs. Chicken said...

an old soul, indeed.

you are a very good mother.