The fourth little traveller woke up this morning looking pretty much the same as he did yesterday. I don’t know how to politely say this, but the bite on his eye has him looking somewhat disfigured. The shape of one of his eyes is almost lion like. He is my lion child, my one eyed lion child.
The third little traveller was in the bed with me this morning, he’s been having growing pains. An infliction his father also went through as a child. I’m currently moonlighting as a narcoleptic amateur masseuse. In the middle of the night he’ll wake me asking if I can rub his legs. And while I desperately will him back to sleep I struggle to stay awake.
“Mum, you’re snoring!”
I used to be fantastic at getting up (and then staying up) with my children in the middle of the night. Not anymore. I struggle to keep my eyes open as I answer questions, bemoan having to head to the kitchen for supplies, and sleepwalk people to and from the toilet.
When the fourth little traveller landed by my bedside this morning, his first question was more of a statement.
“It looks better right? My eye looks much better.”
It looked the same as it did yesterday. Terrible.
“Yes, it looks much much better!”
The third little traveller chimed in.
“It looks really good, nowhere near as bad as it did yesterday.”
The fourth little traveller skip-bounced out of the room, he’s working on his follow the yellow brick road skip at the moment. The third traveller turned to me and said with urgency “You can’t let him go to school looking like that.”
Our fourth traveller worries way too much about what others will say and think. After watching him be slayed by comments in the past, I now see a boy who focusses on running with the pack. It’s very easy to stand on the sidelines with advice “Who cares what they say?” and “You do what you want to do”, but the truth is that school often requires a skin with the combination surface of sandpaper and teflon. Rough enough to protect you from the barbs, while smooth enough to let the comments slide right off.
“You really need to do something about your eyelashes” said a little girl to the second little traveller recently. “You should go to the bathroom and wash your eyelashes, they’re gross.”
Our second little traveller has the eyelashes of a camel and had the remnants of sleep dust, her math partner felt the need to make a public announcement about the situation.
“I’ve just worked out what the problem is with our math group” she said the following day to the team while focussing on our traveller “you’re really stupid aren’t you?!”
The second little traveller shared this with me after dinner. “Can I talk to you alone Mum?”
She told me that it was hard to know if the girl was being really nasty because every time she said something cruel she ended it with a “just kidding!” She told me she’d gone to the teacher and asked to be moved, she told me she avoided this girl “most of the time.”
“Do you want me to talk to the school?”
“No. I think she’ll leave me alone once we’re not in the same group. I’ll wait and see, I just wanted you to know.” There were tears, but she wasn’t broken. Just hurt.
My initial feeling was to track down the child and throat punch her in the middle of the classroom, while shouting obscenities and using prison terms for how it was all going to end.
And then I calmed down.
My own children have said terrible, nasty things. That’s what children do. Last year one of the little travellers became so irrationally angry with a little girl that he said something impossibly mean – it took my breath away. I was sure that the information had to be wrong, not my child? When G and I confronted him his face turned red, his hands were shaking and he began to cry. “She just wouldn’t leave me alone. I just wanted her to leave me alone”. He wrote a letter to both her and her parents and hand delivered it to their house. G watched as he read it aloud and stood by the door as he shook hands with the family offering his apologies. Meanwhile I sat at home and readjusted my parenting tiara. That night when we spoke he told me “I don’t think I’ll forget today for a long time”.
The fourth little traveller came with me to grab a coffee this morning, as we lined up at Starbucks the woman behind the counter screeched “What happened to your eye!” he gave her a lengthy explanation, she put whipped cream on the top of his hot chocolate. When we picked up the bagel from Tim Hortons the woman lent forward and said “What’s wrong with his eye? Do you have ointment?” I gave her a blow by blow account of our trip to the doctor. As we made our way out of the mall (via the shoe shop) I ran into a friend “how’s that….OH WOW LOOK AT YOU” she smiled.
“Thanks for letting me stay home” said the fourth little traveller as we drove home.
“You know you have to go tomorrow. You can’t stay home again. I could always dress you as a pirate?”
“Oh My God Mum – now that would be embarrassing”.