Monday, August 9, 2010

Through the Door

This weekend was a blur of birthday parties. Three in one day, to be precise. Our party marathon went well despite the potential for meltdowns and ugly sugar high crashes. We'd made it through two, and the third and final party of the day was a pool party followed by dinner. The adults joined the kids in the pool, and having my husband present meant I didn't have to haul both kids into the ladies change room.

I'd already gotten my daughter rinsed, changed and out the door when one of the older girls came in with her clothes. She looked around, then just stood there. We made eye contact, and she explained that there weren't any changing cubicles to give her privacy. I offered to stand at the door so that no one would come in. That seemed to satisfy her until two more of the party-goers came in and started showering. She was clearly uncomfortable, so I told her I would be happy to hold her things so she could change in the toilet stall instead.

That was the process. She cracked the door and handed me her wet bathing clothes, I handed the towel through. She called out what she needed, and I discreetly gave her the clothes as she stuck her hand though the door frame.

As I pushed the items through, my eyes stung and I was happy for the privacy she had behind that grimy swim hall door. This little girl is beginning elementary school this year. She seems so big compared to the other kids at the party, but she is still just a little girl. I know her dad sent her into the ladies change room because she is old enough to dress herself. He had to contend with her little brother on the other side of the wall, and a seven year-old needs much less help than a four year-old. Except this is the little girl who lost her mother this past spring. Her mother died in January, and here it is August and she is so big and so little all at the same time. It hurt my head to think about the unfairness of it all. Her mom should have been helping her at this party, not me. She should have had the comfort of knowing that while her father was wrangling her spirited little brother, her mommy was making her warm and dry and safe and ready to hold her hand crossing the busy street to go back for balloons and too much cake. But there was no one. Just me and my stupid stinging eyes. I didn't want her to see any of those thoughts flashing across my face. And so the door stayed shut and I was so, so grateful for that.

She finished up, and I brought her out to the parking lot where everyone was waiting for us. All the parents helped herd the kids out to the intersection to walk back to the party. I announced in my usual, no bullshit mommy voice that we hold hands crossing the street. My kids grabbed my husband's hand, the little girl looked around for her dad. Her father was too far away and too busy with her brother, and so I held out my hand to her. And she took it. She only held my pinky and ring fingers. Too grown up to hold me tightly, young enough to not realize she could have just walked next to me. My face burned and my heart nearly burst on that walk across the street. I thanked her on the other side and told her that she'd done a good job being such a good listener. She flashed a smile at me and skipped to catch up to her dad.

10 comments:

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Oh my word. That breaks my heart and I'm so glad you were there for her!

Mouthy One said...

Cripes. You're killing me here. She will never forget this. Honest. I simply cannot imagine not growing up without a mom. I don't know which is worse: having one and losing her or never having had one. I'm betting on the former.

You're a good bean, NATUI. I love you!

starrlife said...

Ahhhh.... that is a touching post! Makes me shudder and hold my own mom's hand when I cross a busy street!

suicide_blond said...

i like to think that if the situations had been reversed her mom would have done the same... it really takes a village...and im glad you are in her village..

B and T Crowd said...

That was a very touching post. I'm glad to hear there are still good people out there.

CK said...

Found your blog on dc blogs. This brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you were there for her.

imgonnabreakyourheart said...

Tears brimming white I am sitting at my desk. Beautiful.

only a movie said...

So glad you were there for her. Thank you for sharing this slice with us.

tysdaddy said...

I'll echo what others have said, only add a bit of a Cheeky twist . . .

I'm glad you could be there, for you. It's obvious that the interaction, the helping hand, the memories, meant something to you. And you took the time to be there, to internalize it, and share it with us.

Reading posts like this is the reason I started blogging. Thank you . . .

Titanium said...

Oooooh, what HE just said.

Resoundingly. And also, I'm glad you were there for her (and you). The world needs more people like you.