Disobeying all the right advice about blogging, I haven’t written for ages, but have instead hoarded bagfuls of stuff to write one day when I got round to it. Could this finally be the big blaaah? We’ll see. Where to start?
Well this post is to be about Saskia, my conversations with her about Ben and death, as well as the conversations that my friends and I have overheard her having with her little buddies about the same thing.
Anyone who has watched a child go through the first years of life will attest to how utterly lovely and endearing it is when somewhere between two and three they start having their first proper conversations with their friends. They have all sorts of serious little chats, very earnestly debating this or that.
From time to time, the conversation has been about Daddies. Last month Saskia and her friend Jack were sat in the back of the car chatting…
Jack: My Daddy’s at work.
Saskia: Daddies don’t go to work! They go to heaven.
Jack: My Daddy DOES go to work.
Me: That’s right. Jack’s Daddy works in Canterbury. He’s a manager.
And so I wittered on, commandeering their conversation in my parenty way.
Not long after that we were round at Marylka’s, who overheard Sas say to Emmeline, ‘Where’s your Daddy?’ Emmeline, ‘He’s at work.’ Saskia, ‘Your Daddy goes to work, mine goes to heaven.’
It’s that matter of fact way she says things…like that’s just the way it is. That, plus the funny way her and her friends make confident pronouncements as though they are the absolute authority on a subject that they’ve only just learnt for themselves about 3 seconds previously. On any other subject it’s all just funny. With this it’s tragic and funny – she makes me smile, even though what she’s actually saying is sad beyond her imagining.
Lately Sas has learned that DADS = FUN. Mums are alright, but Dads do really good stuff like charge around pretending to be monsters, and hilAAAARIOUS pantomime style goofing around at the swings. So now I get ‘Mum, be funny like Adam and Dan’ when we go to the park and I either have to feel totally inadequate or like an utter prat. We’re so lucky to have such brilliant Dad friends who always make sure she gets swung around in the air and held upside down by her ankles just as much as their own eager urchins.
However, as I’ve noticed how much she revels in this interaction, I’ve also been watching closely for signs of resentment, or sadness, that her own Daddy isn’t here. After all, with anything else, be it food, toys, a manky old stick or a bit of fluff, if anyone else has got something that she hasn’t, she’s in a wild fury of hot tears at the injustice of it. But so far, this injustice, she seems to be taking very calmly. Last week, Sas and I were at the pub with Lizzie and Janine and their children, enjoying a cheeky Friday afternoon couple of pints. A little later, Lizzie’s husband Liam joined us after finishing work. As he walked in he kneeled down to hug his two boys, and then Saskia came up to him and announced, ‘My Daddy’s in heaven.’ No drama, just that. And Liam accepted her pronouncement with an easygoing ‘That’s right’ and a smile, and carried on with the everyday chat about what the day had held for us all. The things she says are all the more poignant and moving for the unremarkable way that she says them – because it’s just normal for her I guess. I’m sure it touched Liam – later that evening I noticed he had an extra big hug for Sas when we bumped into him at the chippie.
Well this is isn’t all the blaaah, but in the spirit of little and often I will post this now and promise the rest soon. Maybe more little people conversations, definitely more about the conversations I’ve had with her. Thanks for reading.