Tag Archives: mother

Wednesday Write-In #58

birthday party  ::  notebook  ::  squash  ::  fresh meat  ::  light

Image: thebeauty411.com

Image: thebeauty411.com

 

Meat

‘For God’s sake,’ Sadie snapped. ‘Look at the state of this place.’

Tara’s room lay before her looking like the Battle of the Somme. Piles of clothing, which Sadie had washed and tumble-dried and folded with mathematical precision now lay in snowdrifts on the floor; the dressing table groaned beneath the weight of the bottles and jars, full of goodness knew what, scattered all over it. The mirror was smeared with makeup and dust, and books lay helplessly where they’d been flung, their spines bent precariously, their pages cruelly folded.

‘Oh, please let me go to Katie’s birthday party, Mum,’ Sadie muttered, in a nasal, high-pitched impression of her daughter’s voice. ‘I promise I’ll clean my room before I go, Mum.’

Rolling her eyes, Sadie stepped inside.

She found the notebook shoved beneath the mattress. Its light pink cover caught her eye as she stripped and remade the bed, but her eyes flicked away from it immediately. She’d once promised Tara she would never read her diary, or snoop through her phone, or even look at her Facebook page, and she did her best to keep her word; but something about this small, secret thing caught her mind like a hook catches a fish, and she found herself looking back. Straight away, she saw what had drawn her eye.

One word, scribbled in angry black biro, all over the cover. Over and over it was written, the letters getting wilder as they went. The nib had been dug in, gouging lumps of cardboard out of the cover like Tara had wanted to wound it. One word.

Meat.

Sadie’s hand trembled as she reached to pick the notebook up. ‘I have to look,’ she rationalised. ‘I’m her mother. I’ll just read enough to give me an idea what’s happening, and then I’ll stop.’

Blinking, she opened it to the last entry, so recently written that the ink was barely dry.

Remember when they used to call me ‘fresh meat’ at school? Her daughter’s handwriting was gently sloped, neat, clear. Sadie could hear her voice in her head as she read, and she felt her heart fluttering in her chest at her words. That was until ‘that night’. Now, it’s all ‘Oooh, lads, d’you smell something off? Like, something rotten?’ and they hold their noses when I walk past, like I stink or something. No matter how many showers I have or how much body spray I use it’s always the same – ‘rotten’. ‘Skank.’ ‘Slut.’ They laugh right into my face, and they ask me things like ‘how much per pound?’

I know they’re not talking about meat. I know it’s all my fault. But all I did was kiss him.

Sadie held her breath. Her eyes were already on the next sentence before she could stop herself.

It’s been nearly a month now but they just will not leave me alone. I don’t know what to do. Nobody cares. Not even Katie.

Sadie felt sick, suddenly. She hadn’t said a word to indicate that she and Katie weren’t getting on. And wasn’t she supposed to be at Katie’s, right now?

Sometimes when I’m coming down the science corridor they all squash themselves into the corner between Lab 3 and the lockers. ‘Get away from the rotting meat!’ ‘God, can you smell it?’ All this hysterical laughter, ha ha ha. And I know for a fact that was Katie’s idea. ‘We’re just having a laugh,’ she told me yesterday. ‘Lighten up.’

Well, I wonder if she’ll be laughing tomorrow.

Gasping for breath, Sadie flicked through the rest of the notebook, but every other page was blank.

Squeezing her eyes shut against her panic, Sadie scrambled in her pocket for her mobile phone. She dialled Tara’s number from memory as she sat on the half-made bed, digging her nails into the notebook’s cover as she waited for the call to connect.

It just rang, and rang, and rang, every trill searing through Sadie’s heart like a hot knife.

Katie’s mother… Katie’s mother’s number… Sadie’s fingers felt like icicles as she flicked through her contacts. Eventually, she found their house number, and hoped it was still current.

Click.

Crrrring crrring… crrrring crrringgg…

‘Hello?’ It was a child’s voice, a little boy. Edward? Edmund? Sadie couldn’t remember. She realised, with a pang, how little she had listened to Tara’s prattle about Katie and her family, and her brother and her parents and their lovely designer house…

‘Hello, love! Is your mum at home?’ She tried to speak clearly through her chattering teeth.

‘She’s washing my sister,’ replied the child. ‘In the bath.’

‘She’s what?’ Sadie’s brain skidded to a halt.

‘A girl came and throwed loads of horrible stuff at Katie,’ the boy explained. ‘Like blood, and stuff. It got all over our carpet, and things, and went all up the walls.’

‘Oh, my God…’

‘Who is this?’ the little boy asked, in a suspicious voice.

Just then, Sadie heard the front door slam shut. She disconnected the call and ran to the top of the stairs.

Tara stood on the mat in the hallway, her face streaked with tears and her hands and clothes spattered with gore. She looked up and saw her mother standing, pale-faced, clutching her phone like she wanted to crush it into atoms.

‘Look, I can explain…’ she said, holding up her crimson hands, but all she could do was watch, dumbfounded, as her mother threw her head back and laughed, before running down the stairs to wrap her up in a hug.

 

 

 

It’s the Little Things

Lots of things in life bother me. I’m one of those people where ‘the river runs close to the surface,’ if you know what I mean; I am emotional, and sometimes I find myself shedding a tear where other people would go unmoved. If I’m honest, I like this aspect of my personality, though I know it upsets my loved ones at times. I like the fact that I feel things deeply, even though it’s painful; it makes me feel connected to myself, and to others.

Image: 123rf.com

Image: 123rf.com

At the weekend, I was standing at traffic lights waiting for a chance to cross the road in safety. Facing me, coming in the opposite direction, was a set of young parents and their two boys, probably aged about seven and five. I’m not a parent, but I’m more than aware of how boisterous and energetic children of this age can be, and these two little boys were no different from the average kid. One of them started pressing the ‘Walk’ button repeatedly, as children do, and the other was prancing about from foot to foot, singing a little song to himself. Just as I was thinking what cute children they were, I witnessed a show of anger from the parents that left me reeling. The children were shoved and shouted at, and the boy with his hand on the ‘Walk’ button had it forcibly removed. The singing child was yelled at and told to shut up. As they started to cross the road, one boy dawdled, his attention caught by something in one of the idling cars, and his father grabbed him and shoved him across the road with what I felt was unnecessary force, shouting at him all the way. In no point was the child in danger – the green ‘walk’ signal was lit, and the cars were not moving. The physicality was extreme and unwarranted, I thought. I glared at the man, and said, very clearly, ‘there’s no need for that!’ as we passed one another on the road – he ignored me, of course. I hardly expected anything else. I’m fully prepared to accept that my actions may not have been appropriate; it’s not for me to say how anyone else raises their children, and I know that. Having said that, I watched the two little boys as they reached the far side of the road; from being the curious, singing little things they’d been at the beginning of this scenario, now they were both crying and angry. The whole family was furious with one another, and it radiated from them like steam from boiling water.

I walked home feeling so sad at what I’d seen. It stayed on my heart all day, weighing it down.

There’s a poem called ‘Children Learn What they Live,’ which played on my mind for most of the rest of the weekend. It begins: ‘If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn; if a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight; if a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.’ I’ve often read this poem and it has always been clear to me how perceptive and true it is. It makes me wonder how a parent thinks treating their child with aggression can lead to anything but pain, or how they think that a child is going to grow up as a happy, contented and secure adult if they’ve felt bullied and belittled all their lives.

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that the family I saw was abusive, or anything like that. Every family has its bad moments, and perhaps I simply happened to be there at the wrong time for this particular family. I’m also not saying that children shouldn’t be corrected when they misbehave; teaching a child how to negotiate the world with respect for themselves and others is a vital part of parenting, and discipline is part of that. For the record, I don’t believe in physical discipline of children, but I know opinions differ on that. I feel, too, that correcting a child’s misbehaviour with appropriate discipline is different from using them as punchbags for an adult’s own feelings of anger or upset or frustration; the latter is inexcusable.

Of course I would love to see a world where no child would ever know aggression, whether it’s verbal or physical, but we’re all aware of how realistic that dream is.

Image: 123rf.com

Image: 123rf.com

I have a huge amount of sympathy for parents who, under pressure from every corner, find raising their children difficult; it’s not easy to find the money and the time and the energy to parent energetic, never-sleeping, inquisitive little people. There are going to be times when tempers boil over and anger reaches flashing point and things are said which will be regretted later – but it’s really important to express this regret, and ‘mend the fences’, and reassure the child that they are still, and always, loved. Love is such a little thing – such a short word, and so often bandied about – but at the same time it’s the single most important thing a parent can give their child. I’d go so far as to say it’s the single most important thing one person can give another.

I would love to see a situation where every child was afforded an education, the chance to learn how to read and write fluently and confidently, and the knowledge that – no matter what – they are loved. Imagine the generation of happy, compassionate and intelligent people we would raise.

Imagine the difference it would make to the world.

Image: 123rf.com

Image: 123rf.com