Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dark skies

She's a worrier, has been since forever and enough so that I've talked to her pediatrician about it and he says just talk to her, just keep on talking to her.

But sometimes she won't talk.

At the beginning of the summer we were driving one morning with the windows down. Her sister was eating a granola bar and impulsively, in the way two-year-olds are impulsive, she threw the wrapper out the window. E began to cry.

But that's litter! The police will be mad at us! You have to go back and get it!

I explained to her that I couldn't stop the car in the middle of the road. I told her about street cleaners. She stopped crying.

I thought it was enough.

We had a tornado warning today. Watch and wait is the protocol, right? Try to carry on, but watch. Be prepared to shelter if necessary.


A month into summer she sobbed deep moaning tears as I turned out her lights at bedtime. She wanted to know when the police were coming to take me to jail.

For the littered granola wrapper.

Today: I don't know what was wrong. She can't tell me.

I think I let a worry stay inside me too long and it got tangly and now it's sticking to other worries and I can't get this one out and now they're all tangly together and sitting in my belly and I can't get any of them out and now I feel very sad and I don't even know which one is why.

I'm watching intently, but I don't know what I'm looking for.

There was the time when I was just not much older than she is now and one of the McLeod boys was bullying me on the playground and I don't remember what he did but I remember he told me not to tell my mom or he'd do something worse, even though I don't remember what the worse was, and I got so tangly in my belly that I couldn't let the sad out, either, and so I punched my brother as hard as I could because I was so corkscrewed with small-body-big-emotion anxiety that my worries came out of me sideways, through my fist.

I know she holds her worries close because they scare her. And I understand her words, even as I know that she's stronger than I was and it's not helping her now, because she's more in control of herself than I was, and she knows she can't let her worries out in a way like that and she's holding tight so they don't explode outward with shrapnel.

We took a long walk. We walked away from school and work. We climbed the steps of the parking garage. We sat in its shade. I don't know if this is the shelter she needs. I don't know how to help her untangle her knots.

CAUTION: FEELINGS IN MIRROR MAY BE LARGER THAN THEY APPEAR

The tornado didn't touch down by us today but there were heavy rains and we had a wild thunderstorm yesterday and one in the early hours of the day before that and the radar shows we'll have another one tomorrow and it's August in the mid-Atlantic so I'm sure there's a long string of dark, rumbly storms approaching us and my first baby, she's upset and can't tell me why.


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Edited to add: this post was spotlighted as Blogher's Voice of the Week, which is humbling and wonderful. And although E spent most of that evening and night crying, she was her usual cheerful self the next morning. We still don't know what was wrong. I still watch, waiting for the tangles to hurt again. Pin It