These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Worries and Regrets
Yesterday, I took you after school to the Rocket ship park. It had been raining earlier in the day so the park was almost empty except for us and another mother/son team that were the same age as both of us - so the scenario was optimal.
Something about this setting made you incredibly comfortable and, even though we weren't TECHNICALLY playing with the other son and his mother, you watched the other boy go down the big slide without any help and decided that you could handle it, too. This slide is huge. I'd say it's potentially a second floor height or even a three story height slide, so I can understand your intimidation.
But this was even bigger to me, still, because before that day - you had always needed me to go down a bigger sized slide, unconvinced that you could do it by yourself.
Well, last night - you did it by yourself and the look on your face as you climbed off the bottom of the slide was one of such disbelief and pride that I found myself shouting and cheering for you like a complete lunatic from the top of the slide.
The rest of the evening was wonderful. You kept trying out the older childs equipment - the climbers, etc, - and LO and BEHOLD - you were able to do everything - all by yourself - with no injury. And I'm not being overly cautious here. I let you try some things that made me want to vomit - like tall side climbers that an adult might struggle with, but you climbed your way to the top and became even more confident. Even more happy and excited and proud of yourself.
Needless to say, I was in some sort of euphoria. I was beeming and cheering and running around the base of the climber calling out to you to be careful that I almost didn't notice that someone else was on the playground now.
Once I noticed them, I couldn't un-notice them anymore - if you know what I mean.
They stood out.
It's just that EVERYTHING about them was ...... different...... questionable......
The woman was short and walked with a limp because she was missing a leg. Her fake leg was revealed to all because she was wearing daisy duke jeans so you could see where it attached up by her hip. It was hard to tell her age because her face was so wrinkled and buried under layers of foundation and makeup. She kind of made me think of a bar whore who simply couldn't give up her previous identity. Her hair was like straw from being bleached FAR too many times. It looked like it could break if I looked at it too hard. Her teeth were false and she slurred from drinking and she had on a tank top that didn't fit and you could see her bra straps running all along the neckline.
The man with her was old. He didn't look at me so I can't remember what he looked like. She hung on him and flirted and they acted completely inappropriate for being on a playground. They would have been questionable even in a dirty run down bar situation.
The child that was with them seemed oblivious to them and them to her. She was Mexican looking with beautiful dark skin and long black hair, but she never said anything. She immediately set herself on a sand digger in the playground sandbox and started to entertain herself.
The strange woman wandered over to me and asked me in slurred speach if I could watch their girl because they were going to go to the bar next door and order food.
I couldn't believe the question. I hesitated in my disbelief and then found my sanity and said "No. I will not watch your daughter. First of all, I don't know if she would listen to me (and this playground was right next to a busy street, so I didn't want to be responsible for my child and someone else's that I didn't know anything about), AND I don't understand why ONE of you couldn't go to the bar and order the food while the other waited here with the child."
She patted my arm and said it was okay. They would take her with them.
I couldn't believe it. I still obviously wasn't thinking clearly because I just kept thinking "OHMYGOD. I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING!"
Now - in retrospect - I know I should have called the police. The child obviously wasn't their natural born child as neither of them were the same nationality as her. My mind has worried about every possible scenario that this could have been - a kidnapped child? A child that was about to be abandoned? Something worse?
Why didn't I call the police? Why...why?
Bottom line is that she was in a bad situation and it needed to be recognized as such. But the moment is gone now and I feel like I failed this child that I didn't know. I feel like I might have been able to make a difference in her life that could have improved it and now that chance is gone and who knows how many risky situations she is subjected to on a daily basis.
I'm worried about her and I can't stop thinking about her and I have so many regrets about that situation.
Which sucks, because that was the day you achieved more independence and grew a little bit more confident of your own abilities away from me. On the exact same day that I saw the underbelly of humanity and now I need to keep a reign on myself and not give into this primal protective instinct I have at this moment to grab you up in my arms and not let you go.
Be careful out there, Jack - Okay? I love you!