Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Because I say so

Tiger refused to get out of bed this morning. She gripped the duvet up around her head and her face froze up with a great snarl. 'I'm not going! I'm not going!'

Discussion, concession, admission. I can do those things. Rip up the tickets? Say we won't go? That is not what I will do.

We have negotiated, as far as we can. All the way of her ten-year life, we have negotiated. Except for the trauma times, when I stooped low, met her eye to eye, bared my teeth too, then threatened I'd release all Pandora's horrors and terrors, worse than any human woman can muster.

Half an hour later, when my anger flush drained away and the shame seeped in, I found out her hiding place and whispered 'Can we talk?'.

This is how not to parent.

You can bet I'm looking for defence, in case you're out there now, tut tutting, wearing a wig and black cap. I have triplets m'lud. I have a space where a husband should be. I have a full heart. My reserves are awful low.

At least I can see a benefit to triplets. I can compare the impact of my wretched behaviour between the three of them. I've treated them all equally badly. Everyone has received my tipped off the edge of the world shouty scream. And look! Shark is still human. Compassionate, thoughtful, responsive to everyone. Forgiving. Last year she pencilled a note and slipped it under my pillow, knowing all sobbing heads eventually seek their beds. Did you know? I am the best mummy, in all the world, and the nicest mummy anyone could wish for. Ever. Only with all the wrong spellings joining me up. But Shark's survived so far. She's kept a steady, balanced course, through all my madnesses and my brain malfunctions.

Squirrel too. Mostly on account of having her hands in her pockets and her head in the clouds. But there is a preciousness about that condition. It keeps you from harm. The detachment makes you safe.

So when Tiger bares her teeth at me and says she's never going, she never wanted to go, I know it's not the consequence of me. It's something deeper in Tiger. Her fears, anxieties, troubles; these are beyond anything I can reach with my bad behaviours, and my good ones too. I've never been able to kiss those worries better, and I've not yet found the right way to soothe and calm them.

So what do I do now? I could pretend to negotiate. But it's a pretence. I know it. And so does she. Here we are final. This is the line. The tickets bought. The flights booked. The marriage determined upon. The house waits. Her bed is there.


sharon said...

Keep humming. I'm sure you have done all of this already but remind her of the things she enjoyed on the last visit and the new places you can see this time. Mostly that you all love her and that you will go back to the UK by which time she will probably react in exactly the same way. Fingers crossed for an not-too-traumatic journey, a non-bumpy-landing and a joyous reunion with Dig.

ladybirdcook said...

I also have a Tiger. If I was in the same position as you are now, I would aim for getting her to accept that she can trust me to not willingly lead her to a place that she will hate. I would be honest with her and say that I don't know what it's going to be like either. I would remind her (or, in your case perhaps, introduce her to the idea) that life is what you make of it - life has been fine thus far because you worked on making it good. That is also possible in Hong Kong. And then, when she starts coming round, opt for out and out bribery to finish the job.