Monday, 15 April 2013

If the tooth be known...

I never fail to be amazed at life - sometimes when you are down, it knows just how to make you smile again.  And at others... well let's just say it knows when to kick you when you're down too (I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it does, but let me explain...)!

So we had finally got over the whole "going off to school/big boys" hurdle, and I was middling along nicely and managing not to stare like some frenzied loony in through the back window of the classroom every day as I was leaving, when we were sitting at the breakfast table, and Paddy says "My tooth is loose!"  

It was as though my whole life flashed in front of my eyes at that time.  My immediate response to him was: "No, it's not!" (Perhaps more snippily than was warranted by the statement.)
"It really is," he whined.
"It's actually not," I repeated, hoping that by saying it, it would come true.

But something in me knew.  And as he opened his mouth for me to see, and that little tooth was wiggling all over the place, I was struck by the unfairness of the situation.  

I had just said goodbye to my little ones at school, had to have their fifth birthday parties after celebrating their births about, what, like two weeks ago?, and now, I have to cope with them losing their small, beautiful baba teeth.  Really!  You have got to be kidding me!

And like any good mother should, I rose to the occasion.  I dissolved into tears. I freaked out and scared my child.  And I responded in such a mature way:

"Don't you dare wiggle that tooth! Ever!"

Okay, so that lasted about two seconds.

(Just for the record, I have made it up to him.  I told him about how it is all a natural process of growing up; I have shown him the new, very visible and absolutely huge tooth sticking out the back; I have shown him the identical one sticking up out of Sam's gums; and all is fine again.  For them.  Not me...)

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


It's been really difficult to write over the past few weeks.  So much emotional baggage to deal with that it has been almost impossible to offload any more on this blog.  The reason for all of this is very simple, and probably (definitely) a natural part of childhood:  the twins have started school.

I have heard from helpful parents in the past so many times now that if I had a dollar for each time, etc., but it's true - they grow up too quickly.  You can remember the precise instant when they are first placed in your arms after they are born, their exact smell, and suddenly, in the next instant, it seems, you are expected to wish them well on their first day of school.  There is nothing quite like that feeling of bereftness as you walk away from them for the first time, leaving them in the care of a stranger for the better part of the day, the week and the rest of their lives.  I am not sure that they were aware of the import at the time at all - they happily waved goodbye and went to sit on the mat with their new-found friends.  It was me that was left to stand outside the class, looking through the window at my grown-up boys, feeling kindof silly and as though I had too many arms or hands and nothing to do with them.  It's amazing how you can still feel the imprint of their tiny hands in yours even long after you have left them. What's sadder though, is the feeling of them pulling away, wanting to run, to play, not to be bound to you by that ever-present hand.  How each time they run off, they tear a small piece of you away with them, as though they had been grafted there and are having to physically rip themselves away. No words have ever said it better than a poem I once read and have reproduced - it's by C. Day Lewis:

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away

Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.

That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still.  Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.

It's these last two lines that have given me hope and the courage to show a brave face instead of parading my aching heart.  

For selfhood to develop, they have to walk away.  And for you to love them fully, you have to let them go.