Life in progress


105. Scenes from the Second Seat on the Right

Thursday, December 14th, 6:00pm
Drommen (and Hillary)


Drommen sits at the window. Hillary takes the seat beside him.

Drommen: Hey, er, Jessica. Or should I call you Hillary?

Hillary: Hey, Jake. You can call me Jessica.

Drommen: (smiles) Okay. What’s new?

Hillary: Funny you should ask that. I met an undercover cop on the bus yesterday.

Drommen: Really?

Hillary: Yeah. She was goin’ around askin’ girls if they’d seen that flasher.

Drommen: What did you tell her?

Hillary: I described him. And I also told her it wasn’t the Drummin’ guy, ‘coz that’s what you said. She asked about him by name.

Drommen: Ah well, that’s good.

Hillary: That’s good?

Drommen: Well yeah, they don’t want to catch the wrong guy. So what does this other guy look like, anyway?

Hillary: (regards him closely) Actually, he kinda looks like you. Except he’s got this mole on his cheek.

Drommen: You told the cop about the mole though, right?

Hillary: I’m not sure. Why do you ask?

Drommen: Oh, no reason.



Next stop: Friday, December 15th, 8:00pm

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The Trust of a Child

I read once, when my kids were very young, that a baby who laughs when it is startled is a baby who trusts his or her mother. It’s something that I found followed through to their toddler years and beyond. I joked with my kids that I was going to do horrible things with them; cook them and eat them for dinner for instance. They’d laugh, knowing I would never do such a thing, because they trusted me.

There was one instance that I will never forget and I try not to regret for the simple reason that it taught me something.

I was leaving the pool where Alex was, at the time, doing physiotherapy. He wasn’t walking yet at the time, so he must have been less than five years old. I carried him out of the building, loaded with purse, swimming clothes and Alex all in my arms. I remember it was cold. I put him down on the curb in front of the car but to the side where I could see him, so I could wrestle my car keys out of my coat pocket. Had a car come, I was prepared to stand in front of it to prevent him being hurt. I proceeded open the doors and put the bags in. Then I waved goodbye to him and pretended to get into the car, expecting him to laugh. He knew I would never leave him there by myself. But instead of laughing, he smiled at me and waved back.

Whether he didn’t understand the joke or not, the vision of that tiny little boy sitting bundled against the cold, waving goodbye to me with a trusting smile on his beautiful, innocent face, still brings a tear to my eye.

Our children live in the world we construct for them. Whether they are healthy or sick, they can learn to be happy from us as parents because they trust what they see – the example we set. Alex spent the first eight months of his life in the hospital. All he has ever known, from birth, is pain. To this day he wakes up almost every morning with reflux, trying to vomit past an operation he had at six months of age called a fundoplication – basically, a knot was tied in his esophagus to prevent anything coming up. And yet he is the happiest child I’ve ever met. Other people observe this and ask me if he’s ever unhappy. It’s all he’s ever known. He sees me deal with his morning time retching with ease and he is reassured that it’s normal.

One day I know he will find out that it’s not. Will he stop trusting me at that point? I have no idea. It’s for sure that I’ll have the task of assuring him that even if it’s not something everyone experiences, it’s just the way he is, and that’s okay.

The point I’m trying to make I suppose, is that our children are our sponges. They take from us what we show them, and whatever that is, they trust it, because from the very beginning, we are all they know. I hope, for my own part, to preserve that for as long as their personal experiences away from me will allow. And that they will continue to laugh all their lives.