Wednesday, 21 July 2010

We took a snow leopard to Paradise Wildlife Park

Today, my children left me. I stood among the big cats, all alone, and they left me.

I'm not surprised.

I knew it was coming. I heard them plan it. They discussed which animal was coming, what greetings should be exchanged, what friendships should be made, and what story should unfold in the secret jungle.

Then they packed their bag, ordered me to drive them, ran the snow leopard across the park, and left me.

They have been leaving me for years. They started soon after they could walk, and they took the contents of the dressing up box with them.

Later they came back, and towed away horses, jeeps, railway carriages. Soon enough, their little fingers grabbed onto anything and everything they could find, and they vanished out my life, with not so much as a See you later.

As they grew, they cared less what they took. They made what they needed. They dug holes and hollows and secret places for their playmates. They took earth, moulded it with purposeful hands into mud, then sculpted everything they lacked. Wings to fly with; talismans and tokens to safeguard troubled times; bread to eat on their journey through the stars.

Sometimes I came along, big heavy clumping creature that I am. I spoiled it. I swept everything away, often without knowing what I destroyed. I even took the stars.

Shamefully, sometimes I saw what I took, and I knew it for what it was. A fragment of paper with a scribbled note; a length of twine with a tiny bead; a pipe cleaner, threaded on a button. Each significant. This scribbled note, a unicorn's diary. That twine, a mark of loyalty to the clan. This pipe cleaner, a wizard's wand, spellbound to its owner.

When I am feeling hard and vengeful, I pick these objects up from the floor, take them away, crush them in my hands, and throw them in the bin. The house is only so big. I cannot save everything. Maybe I'll keep the wand two weeks. They'll make it again. Perhaps they'll forget what I did. I won't tell them.

But some things, I do not touch. Even I, ogre, know where not to tread. Those moments, which are not mine. That transition which gives rise to wrongs, disloyalties, betrayals, wars. And to resolutions, affirmations, new beginnings.

The point where my children leave me, and cross the line into the land where I can't go, is the reality they have which I clumsily call play, and which they know is real.

Their play is real and alive, and is part of who they are. It is the space they inhabit, the choices they face, the decisions they make, the people they are. I won't touch that.

So today I stand, and quietly watch the snow leopards come face to face, growl their greetings, and embark on their adventures together.


Cathy at NurtureStore said...

Beautiful Grit. Today I had two mermaids.

sharon said...

Oh they always come back Grit! Beautifully put though ;-)

Love the haircut(s), bet they are making life a little simpler.

emma said...