I hit my toddler

22 November, 2009

I hit my toddler,  Asha.  I hit him again, over and over. I can’t stop.  Time opens like a wide cave and we fall, between dark seconds. There is no here, no now, only Asha and the beat of my hand on his back. I look down at his now burgandy face, he looks straight ahead, eyes wide, no sound. Someone shouts for me to turn him upside-down, but I don’t listen. A distant voice says “Do you want a first aider, do you want a first aider?”. It’s the check out girl – full of initiative. I ignore her. An urgent terrifying thought comes to my mind, I throw it out and hit his back again. Something moves in his mouth and he gently throws up into my welcoming hands, he breathes. I breathe.

Check out girl stares at me and I ask her for a tissue. She kindly offers me two of their cheapest tissues and then as an afterthought, a jay cloth. I wipe my slimy hands into a jay-ball of sick, then I hand it confidently back to her. The woman next to me looks away from me in disgust. It’s not the jay-ball, I think it’s to do with my holding up the queue.

Inside I am shaking. I am cracking into a thousand tiny pieces of relief. Calmly I reach for my card, as if nothing has happened and slot it into the machine. Check-out girl says “I’ve never seen a kid do that before?”, She is too shocked to ask if I have a points card. No one else speaks to me, no one asks if he’s ok, I wheel Asha away and we cling gladly to each other. To celebrate his survival we split a chocolate Ripple at the fag counter and leave the supermarket. The sun is shining and the world looks good to me. I smile at everyone I pass, and they smile back. Strangely normal in Witney, but that’s they way of small market towns, they are still very local places. And that’s the strangest thing about what happened. No one said anything to us. If Asha falls on the footpath, people stop and see if he’s OK. If he’s feeding the ducks, people pass and smile, and say “hello”. When he played at the check out, people were smiling and watching him. Pointing when he hid from my sight, telling me he was right there – just a few seconds before it happened. But no one spoke to us. I struggle to understand it.

Is this the world I’ve heard about on the news? That world where no one cares about anyone else? The one where people walk the other way, rather than help someone in distress? Am I out of touch with reality? I stopped watching the news a while back, because I objected to it being just so negative. Good things do also happen everyday, but they don’t make dramatic headlines, they dont stike the beats of Big Ben in quite the same way. If the news was renamed, “All the bad things that happened in the world today”, people would think twice about tuning in at the end of a long day.

As we walk across the meadow, safely hand in hand, thoughts come to me. Someone did call out, “turn that kid upside-down”, but I ignored them. The check-out girl did want to get a first aider, but I ignored her. Perhaps people really did want to help. I only looked at the woman next to me, frosty for sure, but I didn’t look down the queues at the others. I paid and left. What if they had wanted to say something to us? Maybe, they were concerned at the little boy choking infront of them? The one they’d just been watching and smiling at.  But we, The English, are not good with sticky situations outside our preset social boundaries.  We are not easy with the warm words and actions of other cultures.    I too played my great british role of  “good in a crisis”, to perfection.   The irony of it dawns on me, that it was me, who did not look up to meet their concerned eyes.   I didn’t let their kindness in.

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Those Endless Days

6 November, 2009

oxford

I am having one of those days. One of those days when you are just happy to be alive, and grateful for everything in this life. A day when the universe said “I’m looking after you honey”. The sun is shining, warm on my face it is a beautiful day. I glide effortlessly through a spectrum of autumnal colour. I drift off for a few moments of much needed rest, in warmth and comfort. Everything in here is still, everything out there is frantic. I am in the “Now” as Eckhart Tolle would say. Sami, the wonder kid, has arranged this day for me and I haven’t even thanked him. In fact I was on irritation autopilot as I left the house. But now, on reflection, there are so many people I have to be grateful to, because without them I wouldn’t have appreciated these peaceful moments so much. I am having a day off and it is exactly what I need on the first Monday of half term. So, without further delay, I would like to say “thank you” to a few of the supporting cast that made this possible.

The very first “thank you”  must go to Mr. Ex. for refusing to have the kids one hour earlier than normal,  so that I could make it to the theatre in London. I should also thank him for his three phone calls at 1.30am as he tried to clarify this with me – sorry I didn’t pick up, but it wasn’t a great time for me. I did find an unsuspecting grandmother in London to have the kids (borrowed her from a friend).  It was very good of her, especially as she didn’t know we were coming.  The theatre was wonderful, Bellydance Superstars at the Bloomsbury.  The kids have loved our weekend away – although ironically, my idea had been a break from them, rather than with them. Anyway, we got out and about and managed to do both the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum on the same day – we got there really early.

Which leads nicely into my second “thank you”. This goes to Mr. George Hudson, an entomologist (bug collector) living in New Zealand who died in 1946. Hudson It was Mr. Hudson’s brilliant idea to change the clocks twice a year. This was so that he could have more time to collect bugs in daylight.  Strangely, I can think of a much simpler solutions to this problem.  That Mr Hudson could have got up just a bit earlier and stay out just a little bit later doing his bug-thang. But somehow, changing the time in half the world made far better sense to him. He also thought it was a shame how much daylight was wasted by people sleeping. Well, Mr. Hudson, I really hope that reincarnation exists and that you were one of the parents queuing with me, outside the Natural History Museum last Sunday morning.  All of us wishing we had stayed in bed that extra hour, instead of lining up outside a closed door. Or perhaps Mr. Hudson,  you might be one of the circus performers we saw last Spring – wondering why we trooped in so rudely, halfway through your show.  Anyway, it’s not Hudson’s fault.  I think if the clocks are going to change twice a year, then we should be properly informed.  They should announce it from loudspeakers on the top of a car.  There should be government texts sent out to us all.  One thing is for sure, we should never find ourselves on a tube train at 8.30am with four young children, when we could be in bed.

My third “thank you” goes to the wonderful AA man who opened my car for me, in a record 30 seconds, when we got back that night. The record is strictly for AA/RAC men who open my cars, not joy riders etc. Just in case you’re interested, the worst attempt was an RAC man who took 35 minutes to open a Volvo that had my keys in the ignition. How dumb was he? The year I had Asha, I used all of my available RAC call-outs on locking my keys, or baby, in the car. Then I had to leave and join the AA. Anyway, Mr AA Man, it was just a tiny bit, well, patronising of you to show me how to lock it, without the keys, by pressing the button. Shame then, that I hadn’t got my stuff out of the car and you had to open it up again. Even though it took you 20 minutes the second time, I’m still going to count your first attempt as my current record. Thanks AA man.

A very special “thank you” to Sami, my first born. Top marks for your brilliant attempt to keep my car keys safe in your hoodie as we crossed London. I had absolutely no idea that you would attempt something so resourceful. Yes, your failure (and I specifically choose that word) was disappointing for both of us. But hopefully I will be able to find the spares when I get back to Oxfordshire.   I know they are in the house somewhere, I think I saw them about six months ago.

Thanks now to our wonderful railway network, which can get me back near home in less than an hour. Also for the innovations in online ticket purchasing. I discovered you can even buy tickets for trains which are canceled.  In fact, I have one in my purse right now.  Amazing, I bet you couldn’t do that in the olden days.

Lastly, my sincere thanks to the wonderful Oxford Tube coach service. Next time I will definitely buy the ticket which was £7 cheaper than the one you sold me. Thanks for telling me about it as you passed me my change. And lastly a massive thank you to the mechanic who is working on the engine right now at the back of the coach on the side of the M40.

But the truth of the matter is, that this wonderful day-off is a choice.  It is a choice whether to focus on the pain and disharmony of life – it’s always going to be there.  Or whether to take a different view of what’s happneing to us.  Which lens we look through, the short sighted one, or the one that gives us a bigger picture.  The warmth and silence that this opportunity has provided me with, is exactly what I needed today.  I need a rest before half term takes a hold of my time and energy.  I’m going to make the most of the beautiful scenery and the chance to catch a nap in a comfy seat. Right here, right now, nothing is wrong and I can choose to find everything perfectly right with life, if I want to.  And just for today, I do.

peace

“Thank you for the days, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me”