Thursday, January 18, 2007

Surrogate children

I think I must be missing my boy.

Last night, after dinner at my mother-in-law’s house, I read bedtime stories to her foster child, J. He’s nearly five, and just starting to love stories, though his concentration was waning by the end of the second one. At dinner, I was seated next to J, who was more keen on anecdotes than eating.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said, as our plates emptied and his remained full. ‘I can’t hear you. I won’t be able to hear you until you’ve had four more mouthfuls.’
He shovelled in four hasty forkfuls of peas and continued through his mouthful.
Later, I asked him a question he wasn’t too interested in.
‘Sorry,’ he said, putting his hands over his ears as I had earlier. ‘I can’t hear you’.

Tonight, it was dinner at the North Melbourne Town Hall with two good friends. The heat of the day was slowly evaporating, and the beer garden, blessed with the beginnings of a cool breeze, was packed. While one friend was fetching a round of drinks, mid gossip about old boyfriends, I looked down to see a small girl hovering at my elbow. Dark eyes, long dark hair to her waist, rustling red dress. She whispered a hello, and I engaged her in conversation about her pretty dress (yes, I know) and what she ate for dinner.
‘Who’s that?’ she asked, pointing at my friend.
‘She’s a fairy princess,’ I said. ‘Doesn’t she look like one?’
The small girl frowned and my friend, elegant but utterly street smart with her short red ringlets, square glasses and sleeveless woollen vest, laughed and nodded.
‘She has wings,’ I said. ‘Sparkly ones. They’re in her bag.’
The girl’s eyes widened.
‘Can I see them?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘They dissolve in the light. She can only take them out when it gets dark.’
‘Don’t tell anyone,’ I whispered. ‘It’s a secret.’ I put my fingers to my lips. The girl smiled and mirrored my gesture. Our companion returned with the drinks and our conversation drifted back towards grown-up topics. The little girl returned to her table.
She’s got wings!’ I heard her say. ‘They’re in her bag!

On Tuesday night, I rang my dad’s house to speak to F. He sounded a little perturbed.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked him.
‘I’m watching a movie, Fantastic Four.’
‘Oh, that sounds good. Is it good?’
‘Yes.’ Pause. ‘I’m right in the middle of it, actually.’
‘Oh. Would you like me to let you go, so you can get back to it?’
‘Yes please. Bye Mum.’

I guess he’s having a good time.

Two days to go and I’m there.


redcap said...

He he he. Just goes to show, kids can't keep secrets. Did you get dirty looks from little red dress's parents for telling whoppers?

The weather's charming here at the moment - wet and sticky. Perfect drinking weather, of course, even if the ice melts way too fast.

audrey said...

That's delightful! I love sharing secrets with children.


That sounds a lot worse than it is.

redcap said...

Actually, that makes me think of my 30th birthday. The fambly had come around for dinner and I managed to get uttery trashed on champagne. (Not my fault. Someone kept filling my glass, really!) Prior to this, my niece had never shown the least interest in me. This is because I'm the Evil Aunty. However, I'm the Helluvalotta Fun Aunty when I'm munted. Of course. Miss Niece had managed to run rampant through in my flower beds, getting generally grubby, so the pair of us were sitting on the edge of my bath, splashing our feet to get tidy again. Apparently, this was a bit of fun, so Miss Niece said to Number One Brother, "I don't want to go home! I want to stay with Auntie Redcap!" What did NOB say? Naturally, he said, "Look, Auntie Redcap is going to sober up soon, and when that happens, you Don't Want To Be Here." Sad, but true. I wish I had at least one maternal bone in my body...

meva said...

Bah humbug, redcap!

Enjoy Mexico, Ariel. Knowing F is having a good time will make it easier for you.

redcap said...

Ariel, what happened?! Could you not find us in the pub? We even stuck a up a little sign that said, "Are you Ariel?" We had a dandy time - it was a pity you weren't there.

Ariel said...

Hey RC - no, I couldn't find you in the pub at all. I hung around for half an hour, walking in circles and sitting in various spots. And felt very very stupid for not having realised that of course I wouldn't just recognise you both, as I presumed I would. Sigh. Your idea about the red roses wasn't so silly after all ... glad you & Audrey found each other, anyway. So sorry I missed your sign - it must have been after I gave up, feeling very silly, and left. Maybe another time, with some way to recognise each other? Sorry I missed it.

redcap said...

Oh no!! You were there and we didn't see you! I went up to a few random women and said, "Are you Ariel?" I thought that you and Audrey would already have exchanged pictures or something, so yesterday I sent Audrey an email to tell her what I looked like and she picked me out from randomly wandering people. Are you still in town this weekend? I'm about and would be happy to buy you a beer. Email me -