Friday, May 18, 2012
My kid was not invited to a party last week and I emotionally imploded. It turns out I am still 8 years old. In grade school. And miserable. Ok demons.. let's confront you.
When I was kid I was very smart and pudgy. I wasn't type II diabetes American obesity epidemic fat, I was 70s, boobies too early and chubby cheeked fat. I had a pair of jeans called Husky. I hate the word husky. There was this girl. She was a mean girl. I was her target for two years. I used to hide in the back of the library with Judy Blume so that I wouldn't have to deal with it, but she usually found me somewhere everyday and made my cry. I read a lot.
Years later I was working at my local pool and this girl, now an adult, showed up to swim. She recognized me instantly and her whole face transformed. She looked upset and remorseful and began to apologize. She told me it had haunted her, the way she treated me. Her parents were going through a nasty divorce and both her and her brother were assholes at the time. I told her it was all fine. I was fine. I had survived and it had honed my razor sharp wit and deep love of teenage novels. It did not kill me or scar me. At least not as badly as it seemed to scar her. That's what I thought at the time.
My daughter is in grade 2. She asked me if we could invite a friend swimming, so I called her mother. The mother said, oh. she is going to a birthday party. My kid overheard and her face crumpled. Everyone is going to x's party but me. X is one of my kid's closest friends. My heart stopped. What? Why weren't you invited? I felt tears burning, heart pounding, and I was instantly transported. I called this girl's mother. I couldn't stop myself. Why isn't she invited? The answer is simple. Because they are 8 year old girls and they use birthday parties as weapons...in the end she was invited and had a great time. This is not the point of my story.
The point of my story happened in my head as I tossed and turned in my bed that night. I imagined the next two years of my daughters life, feeling rejected and humiliated. I put my childhood on her and it broke my heart harder than I felt when it happened to me. I realized she was going to have to go through shit. Not exactly the same shit, but shit none the less. There was nothing I could do about it. There was nothing I should do about it. It is an inevitable right of passage.
I could go off an a rant here about today's parenting and their hamster-ball like over protection of their future anxiety disordered children, but I wont. Mostly because I fell prey, prey to trying to smooth my daughter's road. Of trying to screw with the hurdles she should have to leap. Of using terrible metaphors. The thing is, my childhood made me who I am, resilient, funny, adaptable and a reader and writer. Would I wish it on her? There are scars that make you beautiful. Not all do though.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
One great story came from a client whose family is Greek. It's not really a story, it is more a description. She was talking about her childhood, her dad and animals. They were poor immigrants and lived in a tiny apartment. There were always all kinds of animals in her house, most of which ended up in a pot of some kind. We talked about eating lambs heads and eyeballs and how she came home to snapping crabs in her tub. Once her brother came in with a live chicken he found, this is in urban montreal in the 80s, not some rural village, and how her mum killed and cooked it.
She said she liked eating everything, everything except quail. I asked her why not quail? She said because it reminded her of pigeons. Especially her pet pigeon. Which her mum cooked and fed to her one day after it had croaked.
Strangely enough, this was a funny story, a touching story. Both us us were tearing up laughing when she told me about it. It was a story about how her dad was a macho Greek man and her mum was a superwoman who watched over neighborhood kids to make ends meet and fed her family on nothing. It was a story of living without much money but with life all around you. And it was a fucked up story about being made to eat your pet. She was so poor she had to eat her pet. Seriously funny.
I have been bitching and stressing about poverty this winter. It has stolen my sense of humour and quite possibly a portion of my sex drive. Spending an hour with this woman and having this conversation put things into focus for me. It sparked me back up. I do often wonder how I will make rent, but I got to see my kid ride her bike with total confidence and no training wheels today, then she read me a book. On Saturday I get to dress up like a unicorn and perform an awesome number on stage with girls dressed as dudes. I am in a play where I am a super-villain graduate student with fists of steel and I am currently pinned under a shit eating dog and two cats. I get to walk on the mountain on Thursday mornings and I do actually love my job.
Oh..and I am getting a tax return, so I will not yet have to feed my daughter her dog.
Life is all around me too.