My Sunshine, My Clouds, My Thunder and Lightening

Bickering children, a sick husband, two unfinished assignments and writing that makes no sense. Not every day is a winner. There’s a little black cloud hovering above my head, it threatens rain, or worse, a thunderous roar with a sharp crack of lightening.

“Please brush your teeth”

“I did”

“Please go and brush your teeth”

“I did”

“Don’t make me ask three times…”

In another room there’s the initial clack, lightening hits the air.

“Give it back!”

In a flash I’m joined by two weathered children, thunder and rain, anger and tears.

They’re fighting over a piece of play dough. A dried up, used, sad piece of play dough.

I turn towards a child who is trying to inconspicuously leave the room. My voice edgier, and for a third time.

“Go and brush your teeth”

Next on the agenda.

“Why is the play dough upstairs?”

They stare back at me blankly, cleverly, they choose to retreat.

A teen walks past with her eyes half closed, the ritual of spooning cereal from a bowl not enough to fully wake her. I know to save my questions for another ten minutes. Teeth brushing, hair done, outfit on, bag packed; these tasks require peace when you’re thirteen. The slightest hiccup, observation, or suggestion, may set off a chain of events resulting in a very uncomfortable car ride. It’s not worth the risk.

“I can’t find my lunchbox” says the third little traveller.

“It’s on the buffet.”

“It’s not there” he’s adamant.

“Have you looked.”

“Yes, it’s not there.”

I walk towards the buffet, see the lunch box, hand it to him.

“Someone stole my sneakers!” The fourth traveller stands in his socks in the middle of the room.

“What! From school?” I can’t believe it, this is outrageous.

“No, last night. I left them here by the couch. They’re gone. Someone stole them.”

“Look under the couch” I shake my head but the smile has arrived. The fog lifted.

“Ah! Thanks Mum” he truly believes I have some sort of mystery shoe finding super power.

They reach the car before me. As my bottom hits the seat a request is made for music, someone else wants a podcast – a Lord of The Flies style debate begins. My head is not in the game. I press play on the podcast, someone pouts, I know within a minute he’ll be engrossed.

Halfway to school a word is said. The woman on the podcast uses the N word. The fourth little traveller immediately sits forward in his seat.

“Hey, how come she can say that word?”

“Because she’s African American, she’s telling a story about something someone said to her.”

“You know, if you use that word in America someone is allowed to kill you. Someone at school told me. And he lives in America so he would know” the fourth traveller is pleased with himself, he believes he holds superior knowledge to the others. He’s going to educate them this morning.

“That’s not true.” the other travellers say in unison.

“Yes it is!” He’s defiant, indignant. How very dare they?

I look at his face, desperate to know something they don’t.

“It’s a really really bad thing to say, but you can’t kill someone for saying it. Not even in America.”

I make eye contact through the rear vision mirror, give him a wink. “You were really smart to ask why it was okay for the woman to say it on the podcast.”

We arrive at the school gate. Everyone suddenly needs to talk at once, the words pour out of their mouths as they exit the car – I’m reminded of, given instructions for, and requested to. Trombones, band concerts, dresses for celebrations, fruit platters and new water bottles – all in the space of thirty seconds. Don’t forget.

“Bye Mum”

“Love you Mum”

“Bye Mummy”

“Can you get me new shorts today?” A final plea said with desperation, if there are no new shorts it’s possible the world will end by 4.30 this afternoon.

I watch their backs as they walk towards the gate. The fourth little traveller’s backpack slips and immediately the hand of the third traveller reaches out, stops it, and slides it back into place. The second little traveller says something to the first, they both laugh.

I miss them, for a moment I want to open the door, call them all back.

And then they’re gone.

Just like that.

My sunshine, my clouds, my thunder and lightening.

My everything.

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