… I haven’t had my coffee yet!
I wrote this several years ago, but I found it appropriate for today’s Daily Prompt (No Apologies) This is my second post, but I do like this story.
It was a Saturday morning a couple of years ago when my youngest was still five. (A delightful 5-year-old if ever there was one.) She came bouncing into my room to wake me and remind me that it was time for ballet, time for ballet, time for ballet. I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a morning person.. I am sure that I did not emphasize that enough… NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT a morning person! Saturday. Morning. Saturday Morning. SaturdayMorning. saturdaymorningsaturdaymorningsaturdaymorning… Those two words put together side by side in and of themselves can bring a slow-stretching smile over my face as I daydream of no alarms, no work to rush to, no high-heel and panty-hose, no rushing 4 kids breakfasts, 4 kids lunches and 4 kids buses or rides to school to coordinate. Such a lovely thought. And so the daydream ends there.
THAT year the dance studio that she belongs to decided that the children in her age group would begin at 8:45. 8:45 on a Saturday morning is that breathe deep, stretch slowly, (oh that lazy, lingering stretch feels oooooooooh soooooo good after a long, indulgent sleep-in morning!), smile JUST BECAUSE it is Saturday morning, linger-in-bed-until-dying-for-coffee time.
I know that you know what I mean. Unless, of course, you are an early morning person and you think that all people like me are clueless to the endless beauty of waking up way before the crack of dawn to start your day early, breathing the cool, crisp air of the morning and having most of what you need to accomplish done before 8:00 in the morning. All I can say is that I stare at you with as much understanding as a 2-year-old in front of an algebra board and I have done quite nicely in life without ever needing to enjoy an early morning.
Well this Saturday Morning was none of the above. As a matter of fact, when my little one pranced her way into my room and I smiled at her effervescence, I was ready for one of the above lingering, lazy stretches when I did it.
I looked at the clock. Oh my gosh it was 8:25!!!!!!!!!! Considering the drive to the studio is 20 minutes long, we were already late!!! Panic struck, I threw on some sweats and a ponytail, rushed her into her ballet outfit, grabbed her some fruit and a Granola bar and had her into the car in record time – 10 minutes! If you knew life and the ordeal of getting ready in my house, you would appreciate what an accomplishment that is.
In the car we go. Proud of myself but grumpy, irritable and knowing that she is already late, I have left without coffee. Not good. I am one of those people that likes absolute silence around me and no human interaction until well after my 1st cup of coffee, preferably after my 2nd. I like to pretend that I can actually have a “quiet time” in the morning – ha! Do you know.. I actually wake up a little earlier than I need to just to have my coffee and get my head into dealing with my day. I either read or answer emails for about a 1/2 hour before I wake my kids up.
In the car, on our way, grumpy but proud to have her now only ten minutes late, Victoria, in her joyful, bubbly little voice asks me “Mommy… can I ask you something?” Now remember.. no coffee, irritable, tired, startled awake and WAY TOO EARLY on my SATURDAY MORNING in the first place!!! I take a breath and say “sweetheart, if you could ask me on our ride home, that would be much better. Mommy has not had coffee yet and I am a little bit grumpy and just need to have some quiet time this morning. We can talk ALLLLL the way home. OK?”
“Fine Mommy. But can I just ask you something?”
Deep breath. Patience. Smile. (OK so it was a tight I-am-smiling-rather-than-showing-my-teeth-snarling smile.) “Ok dear. But then you need to be quiet for Mommy. Ok?”
“But Mommy… When you were 5, did you know how to be quiet for a whole ride to ballet?”
“Well… I did not take ballet, sweetheart. But I guess that I was quiet if I needed to be.” Sweeter smile at her now. I sigh relief. She asked her question. I answered. Done. “So now baby, I need you to just be quiet for the next little while so I can just sing with my songs and not be grumpy.”
Silence. Aaaaaah. My lips curl at the ends ever so slightly as I allow the joy of only my favourite songs to envelope their lovely blanket around us. Me, the music and…
“But Mommy… How did you know how to be quiet when you were 5 years old? What did you do with all the words that you had to say?”
Less patience. Deep breath. Fake, tight smile. “Well dear, it is like this. You don’t actually have to SAY all of the things that your head thinks. You can just THINK it and then remember to say it later.”
Two seconds of silence. I was hopeful… “But, but Mommy, I am not good at keeping the words to remember and I just have to talk them. I don’t know how to be quiet.”
Now this is true. I had come to realize that this child had somehow gotten the warped idea, somewhere along her little way, that silence meant that somebody better speak fast to fill it. Silence meant that someone was forgetting to talk. Specifically her. If it was silent she was failing at filling the void of conversation with the incessant chattering that had come to be her norm. She spent her day fluttering from one little activity to the next chattering away to either me, Papou (grandpa), the dog.. or if all else failed, herself. Honestly. Wherever I was in the house, if she was not stuck to me like my little puppy that was always stuck to her, I could hear her sweet little voice sing-songing away. The good news in that is that I never, ever worried about how she was feeling about any particular situation. The world just knew what she was thinking as it was like a constant flow of conversation, thinking, opinions and ideas coming from her pretty little mouth.
“Well sweetheart… just keep your mouth closed and your ideas and questions saved up for the ride home. I know that you like to talk. A lot. But this is just a good time to practice NOT talking.”
Silence. One thousand one. Two thousand two. Three thou…
“But, but Mommy…” Now her voice is actually quaking. I am such a bad mother. I am making her cry without even using a firm tone of voice. Oh my gosh I am horrible. “But, but Mommy… Mommy… I, I just don’t know how to keep the words inside… How did you learn to be quiet Mommy?… When I go to school and the teacher tells us to be quiet she is talking or telling me a story so it isn’t hard. And we get in trouble if we talk when we are not supposed to. But you aren’t talking and I want to talk to you and I don’t know how to keep the words inside. Mommy… Mommy… Maybe you could talk and then I could listen and then I won’t talk.”
“Mommy.. when you were 5, was it easy for you to be quiet?… Did you like to talk to your mommy too?.. Did your mommy teach you how to be quiet? Who did you talk to when you were supposed to be quiet? Mommy?”
I didn’t talk. I didn’t respond. But I sat in the driver’s seat and listened. The whole 20 minutes with my lack of caffeine starting a lovely headache. Twenty minutes. She talked about not talking for twenty minutes. By the end I was actually finding it funny and rather incredible that a five-year-old could even do that.
It was a long twenty minutes, but I was smiling.
As I sit here this morning, still early in the day two entire years later, she is in her room colouring and I am sure making some colourful little masterpiece that will be hand-delivered to me within the hour. Our room doors are both ajar. I can hear her. She is chattering away, even with the TV on, asking herself will the blue or the green look better with the pink. And should she use the smelly markers or the thin ones. Oh she made a mistake. That’s ok.. she is changing it with another colour. Mommy is going to like it better.
Little footsteps. Here she is.. hand delivered. A beautiful picture with three colourful flowers. I am smiling.. What a happy little picture. Like happy little her.
Gotta go… she has to tell me something…
It’s Ok though… I have already had my coffee.