The Road Map

She lets go of my hand and breaks into a run as we reach the theatre.

“Bye Mum”.

I do not take the hint. I hang around the entrance and watch as she picks up her scripts and makes her way towards her seat. A group of “big girls” troops in after me.  Miss A has changed classes this term, she is now in their drama group.

They settle down a few seats away from her and start reading from their script.  She looks at them, then at her script and tries to find the right page. Alone in the second row, by herself. Dressed in a pink blazer, her hair pushed by a giant hairband. A bottle of water next to her.

I wave and ask her to join me outside for a second.

“Mummm, please go. I am fine.”

“A, do you know anyone here at all? Should I hang around?”

“Noooo. You can go. I need to get back.”

“Bubs, are you going to be okay sitting by yourself?”

“Yeah, of course. Because we are all in the play together. And I am new here – so, of course I do not know anyone yet.”

“Maybe Mummy could sit with you for a  bit.”

“Mummmm, please. That would be so embarassing”.  That is the thing about love, baby. It can be embarassing.

So. I bend down and kiss her. And allow her to push me gently as she goes back. To sit by herself in the second row. Alone, did I say alone? I drive back home and stare at the clock. All this while my heart is doing somersaults and sinking lower.

She troops out behind the other kids when I go for the pick-up. Outside the winds are howling, the night is cold and the sky is sullen and inky. I help her with a thick coat and hold her hand as we walk back to the car.

“Was it okay?”

“It was great.”

“Umm, did you talk to anyone?”

“Yeah, Mary talked to me. She said I had a nice hairband.”

“Was it bad sitting alone?”

“Nah, I forgot about it after a while.”

“Are the big girls nice?”

“Very nice Mummy. They let me read the big parts.”

She seems eager to go back the next week. Next friday,we go through the motions of kissing and reminders about water bottles. She sits alone by herself like the week before. I smile and wave. Why didn’t Mary (and which one is Mary) sit next to her? When she will have friends to giggle with? But she seems to be lost in her script and the doors are closing and Mr D, the drama teacher is already up on the stage. So I leave her to do her part.

And bit by bit, I learn to gather the pieces of my heart and take them with me when I leave. Bit by bit, I walk back a step and then another and yet another. Bit by bit, I learn to trust that she will take care of herself.

She is a child with a stuffed toy named Piggy. She hates runny eggs. She plays the viola. She doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Her best friend has just moved across the country. She smiles in her sleep. But. And yet. She sits by herself and reads her lines. She blends in a group of strangers and falls into place. She takes cues and share the stage with people she has not met before. Somedays, she is more than the sum of her parts. Somedays there is so much more to her that I do not know about.

Somedays my daughter surprises me because I forget to see her spirit, her heart, her art – all I see is a little smiley face, her warm hand in mine, a pair of footsteps following mine through streets lined with the produce of autumn.

“My turn to come up with an act next week”, she tells me as I pick her up. “Mary and Jessica are hoping they get a part”. New names and such old ease. The circle has widened. It always does, but you have to wait sometimes.

And just like that I know that if she is to act the best scenes, write the stories that will shape her, find the characters that will mould her – I have to let her go. And let her grow. I have to let her sit alone on some days. I have to wait on the outer while she find her way into new friendships. I have to wait till she fails because I cannot be the substitute to her experiences. Some things, she will learn on her own. Some things, she will only learn when I trust her and let her read the map.

“I am going to give you the road map. But find your own road”, my father always tells me. Somedays you got to hand those lessons forward.

My heart does somersaults again. But this time, it does not sink. I think they call this floating.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ardra
    May 30, 2011 @ 13:38:41

    Its the hardest thing- to let go, to watch from the sidelines as they trace their own routes. We are always afraid of their trips and falls, their bruises and wounds which hurts us more than it hurts them. But I guess that is just a part of our destiny too just as they come with their own …

    My heart is still learning to float…after the somersaults, and I think the lessons go on until…


  2. Rajavel
    May 31, 2011 @ 11:56:36

    Wow ! When I read you blogs .. i wonder if i am missing noticing these moments in my son’s life ! But I just realize that i not documenting them as beautifully ! I guess you are doing a pretty good – infact excellent – job of doing it ! I should just read and reflect back what happened in my case ! lovely way to proxy document ! Thank you for that !


  3. scarlettletters
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 15:33:22

    Ardra, that was such a lovely comment. Learning to hurt all over again – and thereby learning to grow and love all over again – that is our lot as mothers.

    Rajavel, you are too kind. Hadn’t thought of it as proxy documents but that is a such a delightful way to put it. Makes me glad to hear it. Everytime I wonder why anyone would be interested in these little things I write about, you guys reassure me so beautifully.


  4. Rajavel
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 23:53:21

    I should reread or atleast do a spell check before hitting the “post comment” button !


  5. Captain Nemo
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 16:24:53

    Awesome, as usual. I agree with Rajavel, but in my case these blogs could be a pointer on what not to miss (at some future point in time 😉 )


  6. scarlettletters
    Jun 12, 2011 @ 12:42:06

    Awww, Captain, that is such a sweet thing to say 🙂


  7. IW
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 12:01:38



  8. IW
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 12:08:28

    Errrrrm.. that smiley doesn’t do justice to the steady warmth filled smile that spreads across my face ( or should I say, not just the face but the entire soul ?) after reading your posts.

    Can’t tell you enough how much I love reading these tiny “one moment in time” kind-of stories and witness the myraid emotions that run through these fleeting moments.

    You are simply the best Scary.. as a writer and more so as a mother.. 🙂


  9. scarlettletters
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 18:19:34

    IW, your comments make me smile warmly, you should really comment on my blog posts more often 🙂

    Thank you for your very generous praise, you are very sweet. I am fairly ordinary in both roles (and sometimes I am described by a certain someone as a very “mean” Mum :P) but I suppose like everything else in life, there are moments that redeems us 🙂 Thanks again.


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