Friday, January 08, 2010

Four year olds and death

I don't want to die. Not yet anyway. Lately P has asked me a couple of times about dying.

P: When are you going to die Mummy?
Me: Not for ages and ages, when I'm really old. Why do you ask darling?
P: Just thinking.
Me: Are you worried?
P: No. Just thinking. Daddy will die first won't he because he's the oldest?
Me (to myself): Hopefully.

And in a split second, a moment of crystal clarity announced its arrival like a sledgehammer to my heart: I don't want my precious little girl to ever have another mummy.

I used to kiss P goodbye before overseas trips and remind her of my promise, 'Mummy always comes back'. These days, I mumble something less reassuring but with more urgency even when I take a trip to the dairy. "Don't forget I'll be doing my very best to be back here if in all the circumstances returning to you will be possible, notwithstanding that unforeseen events occasionally occur and throw our lives into quiet disarray so best to start practising being resilient right now just in case.....". What's worse? Making promises that might not be kept or disappointing her now with wishy washy vagaries? She's only 4 and a half but she does not miss a thing.

A new mummy might be better in so many ways. More patient, more homely, a better cook even. More handicrafty (w.o.t.w), better looking and more interested in nail polish and makeup and ponies and cats. More caring, less bossy, less messy, more clean. More sparkly, more spangles you know what I mean. Less chaos, less fuss, more vigour and vim. Yes Dad, please, a new one, she's bound to fit in. Make her taller, and sexy with more hair than stubble, less sick, less cancer, that's what started this trouble. Ask Santa for next year, a new mummy please, he'll knock one up with the greatest of ease.

The feeling of being replaced is shitty no matter the context. I've been fine about plenty of breakups until my exes have meet someone else. Ouch. At 22 I was at my lowest, a pathetic creature. Ringing an ex-boyfriend at his new girlfriend's house 'just to hear your voice.' Please don't ring here ever again he begged. 'I know', I'd sob into the phone, 'it's just that....'

I can't think of a single thing anyone could have said that would have made any difference to that girl back then. And in many ways I envy her.

I don't need reassurance of my importance to my children or confirmation that my laissez-faire approach to parenting is ok. I just think that if it came down to it I ought to be able to make some suggestions about my replacement. Just like you do when you leave a job - 'you should look for someone who's prepared to put up with long hours for shitty pay working with morons like you.'

So, if you truly care about my happiness, print this list out, keep it somewhere safe and know what.....and then after that, C meets someone and they know can all remind him of what's important.

Qualities and characteristics of a suitable step-mother for T & P:

1) She must be very ugly. Anything else will distract them when she is teaching them French.
2) She must be French. This will enable her to continue the good grounding I have already given them in this most beautiful of languages. "Put your bloody clothes away or your bloody Father will have a bloody fit when he gets home from bloody golf." "That's swearing Mum." "No, it's not," I tell them. "It's bloody French."
3) She must be very fat. Anything else will fail to reinforce the importance of daily exercise and eating well. She will be a constant reminder of the perils of inactivity. Obesity will prevent her from climbing the stairs to my bedroom and laying with my husband whilst I am still warm in my grave, or smouldering should I choose cremation as the preferred means of disposal for my earthly temple.
4) She must have lots of long dark hairs on her face. This will mean she can role model shaving for T and allow P to practise doing plaits and braids.
5) She must be very smelly. See number 2 above.

As you know, action rather than moping is my m.o, so here are the top two things on my to-do list for this year:

1) Stay true to the course of beating cancer and being the best handicrafty mum in the house
2) Teach T & P to sniff out French women and spontaneously attack them, biting their ankles like wild dogs.

1 comment:

BeJolly said...

could get a German and do plaits and shaving practise on underarms (1 underarm for each child)? Then there could also be consistency about anything the children thought bad language being referred to as being French? ...

Are you taking up doilie crochet?