Up our street, colored by a setting sun they run, followed by a slightly slower, thumpy toddler. The bonds of being 6, or almost 6, with a world ahead of them.
They hold hands, grasp each other’s shoulders.
Rosalyn falls, scraping her knee across the pavement, scaring herself so that the tears take a second to come, and I suck my breath in hard, wondering what bone we’d be mending.
Only road rash, ending with that badge of childhood, a fat beige bandage across the knee. She refused to turn back, straining to catch up with the big kids.
They don’t let her in. Her sister is kind, and picks up the fallen toys, gives her a hug when she cries, but big kids, they don’t want babies around. And Ros is, most decidedly, a baby. The hurt and confusion flickers across her face, a little anger, a little sadness. I ask for her hand as we walk but it’s not my approval she’s looking for.
Vivian and her friend slowly degenerate into that tired place they always end up, with bickering, arguing, general jerk. Vivian, who has grown up being taught she must share with her sibling, he, an only child who seems to have missed the boat on some of the more subtle aspects of social niceties, his single mother tired and busy and all those things I would be too were I her. He’s a great kid but sometimes….I wish they had a share button so I didn’t have to spend so much time explaining the concept, trying to grind into him why we share with each other.
He has however, taken up our cry that “Every day is Earth Day” and helps us pick up trash as we walk. He’s a good kid, solid underneath the BS that seems to entrap him, where ever it comes from.
She tells me he won’t let her play with anyone else at recess, and my mind, being mine, flies to worst case, worries. Pulls back and remembers that what is said by a child may not be the same as what can be said by an adult.
Still. The thought of my daughter feeling this pressure, it builds in my ears and I think of all the times I felt cornered and without option. Fiercely I remind her no one has the right to tell us what we do, who we are. No one, ever. She nods and sighs, I know Mom.
I tell her friends don’t ever hurt us.
Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s not. And I want her to own her life, and her body, completely.
They’re sleeping now, the quiet stretching languidly out from under the door, the odd snore reverberating. They dream of fat rabbits and tall grass perhaps, monkeys, rivers, blood on shins.
In the morning they’ll wake with the sun, and take me with them.