Saturday, 3 September 2011

If it's not one, it's the other

So this time, it isn't Tiger, stopping the entire family, dead. It is Squirrel. She elects to stay behind today for the outing to the beaches of Cheung Chau.

In truth, even with all my wealth of experience in emotional and mental disorders, I am finding this one difficult to handle. Not least because Squirrel has been the kid we can rely on for effortless, laid back company. Really, she can be so easy going, you wonder if she is abusing illegal substance.

But, more or less ongoing since June, Squirrel is exploring her other talents.

Find the worst, most painful and cruelest form of words, then hurl them with an air of cool detachment, spear-sharp to my chest, just off centre. Each blow (This family tries to hurt me) is followed by the next (They are my enemy) until the point of considered satisfaction: a visible bleeding wound which can be better scorned with a well-judged sneer before tipping in the salt.

Squirrel, what can I say that I haven't already said? Think over the calm responses, our seeking to understand; the reassurances, careful questions, tolerances of growing up, the attentive listening, patient late-night hours, all my witterings about our 3Rs - respect, responsibility, resourcefulness - and yes, the occasional burst of fury while I lock myself in a room to spit out curses fouler than the amateur Lady Macbeth can manage, then sob and lick my wounds.

Take that as my necessary preparation. Not only for three teenage girls, exactly the same age, readying the bathroom door for the slamming of its life. But for all those future moments; your licking of lips in anticipation of vengeance. Our infinite human capacity to hurt each other. Remember, I was a daughter, too.

So I could say this. You are quite right. I agree with your many cool assessments, although crudely expressed. A family is nothing more than a collection of individuals; we are each interested in our own selfish advancement and primitive survival which we cruelly pursue at the expense of each other. Yes, this collection of individuals is socially organised for someone else's benefit, and any emotional ties we think we have are nothing more than an ideological construct easily exploited for someone else's profit. Sociology has a lot to answer for.

But for crying out loud, a family is also a group of humans with hands and hearts that you can rely on to open the door and be there, in a place where you can come back to, without condition, through all your life states. When you split up with your boyfriend, fall into debt, find yourself with nowhere to live, fail your degree course, get kicked out of your job, are sick with the plague, and go through months of self-made hell. Yes, we will even visit you in jail.

Now, please remember you are aged eleven, and stuff like this is not supposed to come out our mouths for another two years at least. Give me a break. Drop the pre-teen pain and just be my baby again for twenty minutes so I can give you a heart-heaving primitive cuddle like the cruel mother blood of me so selfishly wants.