Friday, 22 April 2011

Considering the options

Dig says it is Easter. I say, The Hat is in Kuwait. So it's your turn to lay the trail of chocolate eggs. She normally hides them behind the plant pots at 7am as she's passing en route to another party, so that's what you do. He says, Is that it?

Well, yes. This is Easter round here. I have done the educational tour of religions, honest, but I'm not surprised I've found my level of chocolate eggs made of brown fat deposited in the garden by a mystery rabbit.

I don't know about anyone else, but for my children chocolate rabbit poop is far easier to consume than stories of death and resurrection.

I am sympathetic. As a child bursting with life and energy, I struggled with the idea of dying too. My understanding was, being dead meant everyone would leave you alone so you could have a long lie down in peace and quiet. If I heard my mother right, that seemed to be something you could frequently wish for.

Then the dog died. I saw him at the roadside, and everyone got into a panic and the neighbour took me away and explained to me that he wasn't lying down for a rest, he was really truly gone-forever, not-getting-up-again, lying-flat-out, dead-dead. It sort of gave me the idea to hold, but then we got another dog, so I could see there were ways and means round this dead problem.

But then we got to the resurrection, and the same person would get up again? The same Jack Russell terrier would pop up from the roadside? That was weird. It just didn't fit.

And for some people, frankly, I didn't want it to happen, ever. Like Grandma. Grandma frightened me whatever her stage of life or death. And I certainly hoped she wasn't going to get up again after she died. The very thought scared me witless; that she might suddenly spring up after she was buried.

She had a wonderful piano though, and each week before the visit I would think about the fantastic sounds I could make when I bashed those gleaming white bars. They responded to me! That was so exciting! But then she frustrated my musical aspirations by banning me from touching the piano. I tried playing it on the quiet (not possible). She retaliated by locking the lid. I tried to prise it open and was told off all over again.

Our grand-relationship probably deteriorated from those times of my continued piano-inspired disobedience. She would get cross at me and send me into the kitchen or give me sour milk to drink.

When I complained, I was told that Grandma had life hard, not like me, and now she was old I was not allowed under any circumstance to make a noise. That included the object of desire, the piano, which stayed firmly locked. It made me resent Grandma all the more, given the many circumstances I could think of where a loud noise was perfectly legitimate, and how hard my life had become, now it was piano-deprived.

After a few months Grandma took to lying down next to the window in the front room under a thick eiderdown telling my mother what to do. I was put under orders to kiss her on the cheek before leaving. She never seemed to relish that moment either.

I came to resent every one of those visits. Without the piano, there was nothing to do, and nowhere to play. My mother consoled me, but then routinely betrayed me by saying the piano wasn't working, or the milk was only a little warm. Then she patted the eiderdown fondly, fussed, and softly called her Edna.

After a few months, Grandma's bed was moved next to the wall. She told me off less and less, then mostly ignored me. But she was always there in the bed when we arrived, and she was always there when we left. The piano always stayed solidly, firmly, locked. Without anything else to do, I probably asked excruciating questions about how she went to the toilet and complained loudly when my mother wouldn't tell me.

The day Grandma died I brightly ran to tell the neighbour my news. I added my fervent wish that Grandma wouldn't do what was threatened, and that was get up again, adopt any see-through shape, come back with any wings, watch me from any hiding place behind a cloud, or indeed do anything anywhere. The neighbour looked at me. I wondered for a long time why she didn't answer. But the way that she looked stopped me from adding how I really wanted the piano unlocked now because Grandma wouldn't tell me off.

I never did learn how to play the piano. I no longer blame Grandma. Yet I have sympathies with my children. I know that in growing up, life is confusing enough. We're having a hard time navigating most days, these days. Generally, we do not seek a deity as a solution, so we only have ourselves.

So yes, I could try leading the kids through problematic stories of people who die, then rise up to walk. I could try. With my fingers crossed behind my back hoping that Shark doesn't chip in with difficult questions about zombies.

Or I could look at the world, and see all life's urgencies around me. The sun is shining hot, the sky's bursting bright blue, and the blackbird is performing his songs of love, anger, frustration and desire. What a perfect invitation. One where watching the kids scramble about the garden and fall into a fight about who hunted the most chocolate eggs seems the very right Easter thing to do.


ladybirdcook said...

yes, yes, and then more yes. My children asked so many logical questions that religion became superfluous - but chocolate is infinite and a reason to celebrate.
And I organised us a free piano so that every child who comes to our house has a chance to sit and merrily bang on the keys for as long as they want, without even washing their hands first.

MadameSmokinGun said...

Chocolate is definitely the one and only true religion. Mr R B always looks bewildered when the horror-bags skip off with their pots, pans hats or whatever to collect their booty and asks if I had this as a child. He should know by now I only do the exact opposite of my parents. Jesus was probably a dude and ok so he came back once but The Easter Bunny just keeps coming. Vote for the bunny!

Rachel M. said...

Oh so this must be the old-fashioned grammy who thinks children should be seen and not heard!