I settled Daniel into his cot some hour or so later, having done the dishes and left them to dry. As I stroked his silken hair, I wondered what destiny had in store for him. Was his life really written, foretold? Or is it more that potential lays a path before each and every one of us newborn, and whether or not we tread the path of our own potential leans tragically toward the adults it is our lot to encounter – whether they nurture us in our natural, gifted direction; or alternatively, if we must struggle to realise our lives ultimately claimed?
And then, can’t just, our potential be diminished by lack of self-belief brought about by childhood trauma, violation, invasion of innocence by depravéd souls; invasion which glazes over eyes that once shone, so where light once burned now stares void self-limitation…Then comes alive the heart, challenged, the soul and one’s constitution, and we fight for our right to live our lives to potential fulfilled.
If we do not fight to live in a way that inspires the greatest breath from our heart, or we lose our fight (within), are too worn, ruined – or worse, we continue to believe those that say we cannot, we are not; never will be – is it then that we find ourselves in basic jobs on a basic wage in a basic existence. So it is possible to live your life not as destined? Then, I suppose, proffers the theory of reincarnation – to try again; to grow.
Perhaps even, I thought, as Daniel’s eyes lulled with calm and the indulgence of love bestowed, some lives are destined to be basic – not emotionally tumultuous as mine had been, standing trembling on the line between the will to live and the will to die; the wish to act, the fear to act; the will to write, the hesitation my writing be worthwhile; the glory of my magnificent confidence and sense of humour, the petrification of my confidence and humour by lack, lack of living it. Or even, some lives are meant to be simple; as a breather for a soul which has already won a fight and their reward is a little corner shop, enough money to pay the bills, and a community who nods good morning and wishes you well until your death.
And if you don’t believe in reincarnation then all the potential with which you are born, if the giants in our baby life succeed in our ruination; it festers in frustration and we live, knowing we are not living, to death.
On impulse, I climbed into the cot with Daniel. I moved him aside so that my wide shoulders could fit, just, and I held up a book for us to read. It was mainly pictures, but the few words it had I delivered with great expression, as if I were on stage and Daniel was my full audience. I was just in the mood.
I have oft thought I would love to read books to children as I’ve seen done in the local library. I could imagine sitting on a chair with them all around me on the floor, looking up, gazing into each new leaf of the other world as I turned it over – each child seeing in the pictures what they each could see. I would turn the pages slowly, creating anticipant pause as my last words sunk in. And the children would be drawn into the illustrations, their imaginations so infinite that who was I to say it was not in fact ‘she’ in the picture – yes, Annie, for it looks just like her. In fact I’m sure if Annie checked at home later, she would find a pinkish-brownish top, just like the girl in the picture – or somewhat like it. And doesn’t that look like Edward throwing the stick for the dog? I don’t know about you, but it looks to me as if the author knew just what adventures were to be had in the lives of these young.
However, I was not confident enough. I’m pretty sure it’s just a voluntary position, but still I just could not present to the library as if I were experienced (with children). Children scare me, should they misbehave, and I don’t know how I would handle other people’s kids – especially if they did not have the manners and behavior I expect.
Being listed with a talent agency before Daniel was born, one of the jobs I had once was to be the Easter Bunny, dressed in a suit so huge and heavy that I had to be led by a chaperone. Without the chaperone I would definitely have been a disoriented mass of fur, bumbling around the shopping centre, bumping into grannies and trollies and tripping over 3 year olds.
I could hardly see through the gauze, but what I could see when I leaned over in gesture to ‘face’ the children, was over-excitement and over-thrill, hustling and begging, hands out, bustling; some hands up in my face. I felt overwhelmed by so many children, so much enthusiasm, my fur being patted and touched – it scared me. I saw rough boys elbow smaller children out of the way, demanding that the next time my big paw dipped into the basket, the chocolate eggs be for them – and immediately after them, pulling at my suit and to the right, would be the quiet but insistent type with the stamina to yank and yank and yank and yank at me for however long it took to fill their eager little fingers with shiny wrapped chocolate bespeaking Easter – that special time of year when you get chocolate from all directions for no reason.
Then there would be the little ones in the thick of the crowd, sort of lost in it; jostled this way and that, too awed at seeing the real Easter Bunny to actually do anything. Them seeming to want nothing more than to watch the Easter Bunny in action, gives you impulse to hone in on them – which once I did with a little girl whose eyes were big as puddles reflecting stars, twinkling. She had one finger in her mouth, was half sucking it. I, in my fat bear garb, gently parted the crowd as I approached her. When I was close enough to reach out without scaring her, I did so. I leaned forward in kindly gesture, careful not to lose my balance, topple and suffocate her, and presented the pig-tailed little sweetheart with the knuckles of my paw. I then slowly turned my paw over and opened it, to reveal three brightly wrapped Easter eggs: for her. I’m sure I heard an intake of breath through the thick costume, as if I had done a magic trick. She stared at my offering the way a Princess may look upon a Prince down on one knee, offering the golden ring of marriage.
Her engagement with the time special, however, seemed perfect opportunity to some boy terror who tore through, grabbed the eggs in my hand and spilled half my basket contents over the floor. The kids dropped to the ground as quick as if bullets had fired overhead and there I stood marooned: an enormous Easter Bunny unable to step in any direction, for fear of squashing a child. My heart collapsed as the tone of Easter was reduced to a mindless scramble for chocolate. Eggs rolled under bins, to the walls of nearby shops – ladies skipping a beat in their heels to not trip on one – and beneath a bench seat where some old grandpa had taken to rest with his cane but was suddenly engulfed by the hyper-young. Oh, but isn’t it so reduced every year.
I had no confidence with children at all, and never took the post of Easter Bunny again.
Having read one of Daniel’s favourite books, I climbed out of the cot and settled him in amongst the blankets again. He grizzled in resistance, still of age to believe that now can last forever.
“Time for bed, darling” I said firmly. “This time comes every day so that morning can come and we can live again – but we need our rest first.” He grumbled and I begged in my heart he wouldn’t be too difficult. “Look, Mum will be just here” I said, walking the few paces to the lounge and patting the seat at my desk (I don’t have a couch). Daniel repositioned himself to see what I meant, and so I sat down and started to busy myself with things on my desk. He seemed to accept that and, when he relaxed, I felt clear to write in my journal.
Having wept my emotions of the day, both sadness and joy, into the feint lined exercise book in memory for my child, I then prepared for bed. After cleaning my teeth and washing my face I stood in the doorway of my old room, watching Daniel sleeping. I wanted to go there, deeply unconscious, but retained fear of what I had experienced early that morning. Was it over; what was it; was it an accidental collide into “my” realm; does it have intentions; does it have power; does it have me in its sights – how could it, why would it?
I didn’t want to close Daniel’s door, nor mine to the sleep-out – I wanted the connection open between us. So with the light off, I took one last look at the foot of my bed – the shadows and shapes of the lounge, then turned to my side and invited sleep.