Which day was it? – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Which day was it?

Which day was it?

Was this the day I stopped breastfeeding her and set her up for a lifetime of being the outcome of formula feeding? Was I secretly relieved when the doctor said my medication wasn’t compatible with breastfeeding because at least I could get some sleep? Did she know that I wanted to sleep more than I wanted to spend that time with a baby like a hot water bottle in my arms?

Is this the day I let her down because my mum took her to the park instead of me because I had “too much work to do”? Is she struggling now because I wasn’t there to bite her grassy toes and swing her around and sit on a bench with her? Does she remember?

Was it this day when I didn’t spend enough time smelling her little baby neck and stroking her little baby hair? Did she catch a kind of socially awkward disease from drinking water directly from that hose? Why was I taking photos instead of smelling her?

Did a fairy in this garden tell her that I didn’t love her enough? Did it say Georgia, if your mother was over here playing in the mud with you instead of taking photos of your butt, she could tell you about these flowers and make a daisy chain and then the other kids would like you better.

Can you see how mad she looks on this day? When I decided to have another baby even though I hadn’t figured out how to make the first one work properly? They don’t even have shoes on. Does she realise I’ve just halved the amount of time I have to help her find her way?

Can you see in her eyes if this is the day I didn’t hug her enough? Look, she wants me to hug her! She’s freezing! Her lips are blue! I did dry her off and hug her eventually, but maybe if I’d done it sooner the part of her brain that knows how to make friends with other kids wouldn’t have frozen solid?

Is this the day I sent her to a school she wouldn’t fit into without asking her what she thought? Because it was the best I could do? Because I didn’t have enough money to send her to a school that could support her better? Was it the day I decided it was more important to work than to be in the tuckshop with the other mums, so I could make friends with them and their kids could be friends with my kids?

Is this the day she cried because we had to leave the fair early?

Is this the day we lost her Littlest Pet Shops?

Is this the day the other kids teased her because her hair was knotty because I didn’t have time to brush it properly?

Was this the day I set her up for an inevitable lifetime of boozing and crying?

  • amber

    May 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm Reply

    No no no. No. No. And no.

    My job the two years before this one was working with children in schools who didn’t speak English as their first language. Often they were also the students about whom the teachers would roll their eyes, all the while warning me about their challenging behaviours and social difficulties and defiant attitudes.

    I used to spend only half an hour a week with some of these kids, but that special half hour got many of them through. I had to confess to my boss on more than one occasion that I hadn’t done any reading, hadn’t dabbled in any grammar, hadn’t practised our letters — we had talked as best we could.

    Is there any way that, at your daughter’s school, an aide or volunteer could work one-on-one with your daughter for just half an hour each week? It sounds stupid, but a bit of special time like that can make such a difference to a kid stuck in a sea of other rowdy students and tired, bored teachers.

    Some kids really do just get lost at school. I know that, for some years in my own education, I got lost — especially socially — at school. I was shy. I was timid. I was bad at team sports. And I was daggy.

    Sometimes it’s a language barrier. Sometimes it’s a personality barrier. Sometimes it’s just a shitty social dynamic (you know how some schools simply end up with a “bad grade” every few years?). Sometimes it’s because some of us are inherently daggy.

    I suffered my first bout of diagnosed depression when I was only 11 years old. That was the year my mother moved me to a different school and all of my old, catty girlfriends at the other school decided to make me the enemy and object of vicious gossip and snubbing. I also got very sick with Malaria and Dengue Fever (my family lived overseas at that time). It was horrible.

    My heart goes out to any kid going through a horrible time.

    I don’t have my own children, so I don’t know what it’s like to be in your position. But you sound like a loving, sensitive parent, which is all you can ever be.

    Thank you for sharing. As always, your words have really made me think.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      May 14, 2012 at 4:33 pm Reply

      I’m sorry you have your own demons to contend with Amber. Thank you for your lovely words as always.

      I have an update to post on Georgia, comin’ atcha now.

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