Friday, April 8, 2011

not taking the Sad home

My girl got hurt yesterday. It was kind of scary.

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 

and RAN. 

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. 


  1. Oh, the poor thing. I know that feeling of not being able to get there fast enough and also of wanting to hold them like they were a baby. I am so impressed with your conversation and what you said. I like that a lot. I can learn from that.

    We are off to homeschool group at the park today :)

  2. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes...

    I agree with Theresa..what a wise thing to 'know'.

    "Bringing home the Happy" I will so remember that.

    Hope today finds your girl happy and giggly and sore-free!

    Hugs Helena.

  3. I have a son who holds on to things like that, and from being bullied/cornered by a few homeschooling boys at a park date ages ago will no longer go to ANY of that homeschool groups activities...and he has a few parks he has been hurt at a few times that he refused to go to. It is good you sat a bit and let it absorb and wash. Hopefully it helps, and will be remembered.

  4. Bring home the Happy. I can definitely put that to use in my life. We had a touch of that on our trip. There were some things that Grace was upset about, valid, mature things. While we were able to move through it and not let it taint our trip, I wish I had the words, "let's bring home the happy" to say to her. I will not forget your words today Helena!

  5. Oh no! Your poor baby! How is she doing now?

    You are so awesome, Helena. I would have probably been crippled by the We're Never Coming Back Here Agains!

    Oy, poor baby.

  6. Theresa, thank you! I knew other mums would "get" that feeling—wishing we could be Superwoman and fly there in an instant. I hope you had a wonderful day at the park!

    Karen, I'm not sure I felt wise at the time (I actually felt really rattled, but relieved too that she was okay). I just felt instinctively we shouldn't leave while in the depths of Sad. She is much better today, thank you!

    Oh, Denise, I'm sorry your son has had those experiences! I wouldn't take my kids back to that group either. You pick the things you try and stick out, don't you.Thank you for your words, and I hope your boy has found tons of Happy to replace those sad memories.

    And thanks, Deb! My kids have been known to say, "This is the worst day ever!" fairly often in the past (hmmm, might be having two sensitive, dramatic parents, you think?). So I've tried to help them narrow down the feeling so it can be The Worst Moment Ever, rather than trapping the whole day inside the feeling. Which means I've actually heard one of my kids say, while crying hard, "I don't LIKE this moment! This is a Very Bad Moment!" Funny, and true. I think some moments are Very Bad Indeed!

  7. And Jessica, thanks for your words TOO!! I'm so glad Grace was able to work through her tough moments, and how great it didn't taint your trip.

    I actually think it's really important, when things upset our kids, that they get to say how they feel. I think they SHOULD be able to say, "I hate this! This is the worst! I never want to do this again! I've had a terrible, no good, very bad day!" And then it's a small gift we can give them, to help them try and shift that energy around. To try find the Happy. (Which Karen has rephrased as, "Bring home the Happy," and which I like so much more!) :)

  8. Oh I think we have all had days like this. I once scaled a 7 foot fence when I heard my child screaming on the other side accompanied by a dog barking. Scary! I still to this day don't know how I did it! Im glad your girl is ok. I was worrying along with you at the start. You dealt with it all in a very wise woman way. :-) Hugs xox

  9. A seven foot fence, Karisma! Wow. I just ran across a playground… Very cool. :) And I'm glad your child was safe too. It's amazing and beautiful what we as mums (and dads!) are capable of, isn't it?

  10. I am in tears yet again from one of your posts! What a fabulous story and I will also (for my kids and me) try to remember the Happy!

  11. I'm so in tears over your story. You really know how to capture the feelings of the moment and put them into words so effectively.

    We had a drama recently with ds4 busting his lip falling off a homemade swing at his grandfather's. I was right there for the laughing, watched him fall and get hit in the face with the swing, and stayed with him while he rolled and writhed in pain saying exactly those words, "I didn't want to come here! I never want to come here again!," for probably an hour.

    Now I have new words to help him through the next one, "this is the Worst Moment Ever" and "Let's find the Happy".

    Glad your girl is okay. (My boy is, too.)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.