The Seasons

It has been so long since I posted here that the words almost didn’t come at first. They are not always adorable children now, the words, they are sometimes firm almost-teenagers with a mind of their own, they come when they want to and they mostly don’t.

So much has Miss A grown since I last wrote about her. She is no longer in Junior School. She plays for one of the city’s elite music groups – a hand-picked selection of kids her age who spend hours on the perfect note. She doesn’t always write as much, she wants to bake instead. She does the dishes and she serves herself breakfast when I am busy. She is loud and cheerful, shy and quiet, at once the best of friends and the quiet child at the dining room table who teaches herself maths and hiragana script and all these things that I watch from a distance. I don’t deal well with distance though and therefore I am always a step behind or ahead or next to her, offering her tea, asking about her day, insisting that days are not just “good or yeah ok” but always so much more.

Her friends mail and text often and as the rule goes in my house, I read all her texts and mails and sometimes laugh at her wit, her humour, her dryness. Sometimes she says a thing that I could have said or have most certainly already said in another lifetime. She laughs at the slightest thing and she flares at the slightest thing too. She is so much like me that I understand my mother better than ever.

But she is not me. She tries even when there is a chance of failure. She is braver than I was at that age and she is open and wondrous. She sings. With the voice of an angel. With notes that scale heights so easily and flawlessly. She pushes herself off that ledge of music and her voice soars and fills up the forgotten corners of my house.

“I want to sing the graduation song when I am in Year 6,” she had said to me when she was in Year 3, little and eager, her voice soft and full of light.

“ÖK,”I said. Absent-mindedly.

“And win the prize for excellence,”.  So little and eager, like I said. And so many dreams and big words.

“And I want to be house captain too. Okay?”

“Ókay.”

She did all these things last year. Every single one. My heart just grew and grew and it started to cry a little bit because all it takes is one look in the mirror to realise how quickly these children grow up.

I had a box of tissues ready for graduation night.

“No sniffing out loud please, this is my night and I worked really hard for this,” she says just before disappearing backstage, her eyes a-twinkle, her humour as sharp as ever.

”So did I. I earned the right to that box of tissues,” I say.

The stage is dark like it always is. The piano awakens in the corner and the opening notes of Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Circle Game’ fill the auditorium. And then she walks out to the centre, she of the sticky fingers and play-doh days, mike in hand and she sings.

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar

Her voice, the piano, her classmates walking in with candles.

Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Still that voice, still the piano. The teachers who taught her to read and write and fall and play and tended to scraped knees and lunch time fights walk in.

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down

More people on stage. A collage of the years of primary school. Old photos and some new ones. Laughter. No tears yet.

We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in the circle game

The tears start to form in my throat first, a hot and stifling pain almost that won’t go away. There are so many of us in the audience, mothers and fathers and grandparents, teary eyed and stoic as we watch the ceremony, as Miss A sings.

But my eyes, they stay dry.

It is much later after she gets her prize, after the house flag has been passed on, after the candles have been lit that the music starts again.

She hold hands with her best friend. She walks down the stage and disappears in the wings, still in tune to the music. No longer singing, the largest of smiles on her now grownup face. The collage plays again and I see her in a photo from another lifetime, she the girl with the baby soft cheeks and the fringe, the eyes full of wonder. She is there for a moment and then she is gone. Backstage to where the stories, the new ones will begin. In the wings for another adventure.

The tears come then. The tissues become soggy.

For the growing up.

For the days now gone forever.

For the seasons, the past and the future ones.

Mostly because we can’t return and we can only look, like the song says.

I didn’t know this when she was little, but I do now.

You grow up twice. Once when you are a child and once when your child grows up.

The second time hurts more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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