One minute she was sitting backwards on this big old seesaw thingy, and getting bounced a lot too vigorously,
next second she had fallen backwards and become stuck between the seat of the seesaw and the hard metal bar for your feet.
Kind of like she'd been folded in half and wedged there like a doorstop.
|not the actual seesaw but it looked a bit like this|
I saw the whole thing from the other side of the playground
I don't normally run. I actually can't remember the last time I did—I'm normally the calm, purposeful one who strides quickly over. But she was totally stuck (and totally screaming) and I totally wanted to get her out.
Running over felt like one of those dreams…you know, the one where you're running and running and just. not. moving? I thought, I'm a galumpher, with my big old legs and arms and body that won't move fast enough. I felt like I was swimming through treacle.
When I finally got there, I had to crouch and pry my girl out. With help, because she was stuck-er than a doorstop.
After my girl had finished sobbing and heaving and clinging to me, I looked at her back.
Four grazes along her spine. The beginnings of four bruises. My poor thing.
But otherwise okay. Which makes her lucky, don't you think?
She did not feel lucky. She kept saying, "I want to go home!" And, "I never want to come to this park again!" And even this: "I never ever want to come to homeschool group again!"
I know that sorrow. And wanting to be as far from the thing that caused it as possible. I know the feeling of wanting to run, to blink yourself somewhere soft and safe and quiet.
What did I do?
Well, I wanted to lift her and carry her about like when she was a baby. I wanted great soft wings to fold her and hold her and keep her close. I wanted to pull her back inside my own skin.
But I said, "I'd like to stay, if we can? I'd like, if we can, to try and find the Happy. If we leave now, we'll just remember this moment. And we'll be sad. If we could just stay a bit longer… maybe you'll feel better. Maybe we'll find a little Happy… Could we try?"
She agreed, but stayed close. My boy (he of the too-vigorous bouncing and now massive guilt), stuck close too. I sat at the park bench with a girl on my left and a boy on my right. I wrapped my arms around them both.
We sat and I talked with the other homeschool mums. My girl had a chocolate egg, a gift from a friend. Then another egg. At some point she said, "It doesn't hurt any more, Mum," and smiled.
The day didn't suddenly go crazy with delight. It's not like the circus came and distracted my girl; it's not like she suddenly leapt up off her seat and played and danced.
But we didn't leave and bring the Sad home.
We waited, and calmed down, and found something small and good to bring instead.
A chocolate egg.
A cuddle by a lake with the wind at our backs.
Hugging my boy close. Saying, "I love you."
My girl turning to me and saying, "It doesn't hurt any more, Mum."
My girl smiling.
These seem such tiny things.
But in a life where it's so easy to carry Sad around
(and I do. I may not show it very often, but there are times I carry sorrow around in my bones. Stuck there for days sometimes, sorrow wedged into my ribs, resting on a hip-bone, lodged near my heart),
I make a point to find the Happy.
Look for the impossible, glorious, spangled light.
Try and find something small and good to bring home.