She’s been tears and fears lately, brimming with joy and cringing at the wings she’s growing, her feathers new and moist.
It’s hard to be six.
The world is unfair. She needs help. She isn’t smart enough. She isn’t good enough.
The words from a toxic friendship with an even more toxic parent still hover around her, float, flying out occasionally with a random, “Tomas said I’m stupid. Tomas always broke my things-he broke everyone’s things”, “Tomas broke my heart.”
At six, where does a girl child learn this, a broken heart?
She’s learned already that some adults cannot, should not be trusted. We’ve learned the lesson too, as she speaks more about what happened, the things she couldn’t tell us then, for whatever reason.
We trusted someone who didn’t tell us things, stories about stuff like addiction and criminal records. We trusted her and we trusted him and her little heart-it’s been broken by a boy who’s mother I question in my head, or did question. Her child has created in mine a little girl who doubts, a shining creature who now questions what she knew, her brilliance, her personal perfection, the wonder she grants the world.
If I could hate a child, I would.
She lashes out, not at me, but others, and when I question, she cries in my arms and tells me there’s just too many words in her head and she doesn’t know where to put them.
She’s watched people be hateful and mean to each other, and thinks this is how life really is.
Her nightmare’s kept her up last night, her tears falling on my arms as I cradled her head, the tiny head I brought home years ago and swore I’d protect from harm, swore I’d keep happy.
I broke my promise. Yet I didn’t even know until it was too late to stop it.
Now I fix it. Now I hold her little body as it shakes with the anger she rightfully feels, the sadness, the betrayal. I hold her and wait for the light to appear once more, her light, the beautiful woman in waiting. I tell her she never has to see him again, hear his voice.
I wonder for him, and what he lives all day. We tried-lord knows we tried for him. But did we try hard enough? Should we do more? Do we make a call that rips a child from their mother?
We choose to stop answering the phone, locking the doors. We wait for them to move.
Vivian figures it out, and stares at me with grateful eyes.