Sometimes I find it hard to get the words out.
I need a go-between, whether it’s cartoons or writing or (in years gone by) acting. It’s a way to hold up what I’m feeling to the world and see if anyone else has felt that way too, without, you know…speaking…like, in real life.
I’m okay with that. It’s kind of my thing. But…
(OF COURSE, THERE’S A ‘BUT’)
Sometimes, it would be nice to have the words.
Something kind of scary happened on the subway platform the other day. My three-year old daughter was pushed to the ground by a young man with mental health issues. His mother was there and tried to get him to apologize, but he attacked me instead.
It hurt. It was scary. And the ‘what-if’ scenarios running through my head were out of control well into that night.
We got away and I held my daughter, who seemed smaller than she did only seconds before. I fumbled for the words to explain that it’s never okay for someone to hit you, that mama will keep you safe, that the young man didn’t understand what he was doing, and on and on and on.
And I felt like a fraud. I felt like I had deeply failed my daughter. Not because I struggled to find the words to explain what happened, but because when she was hit and the mother tried to force an apology, I stood there and waited out of an obligation to politeness.
I felt the words scatter and hide somewhere deep down where fear lives. Instead, the thing that stood up and moved to the front of class was complaisance. I defaulted to the familiar.
The part I couldn’t explain to her, was why I prioritized that urge to please over the unshakable instinct to just get away. Not that she asked me to explain. She moved on from the experience and was asking about snacks again soon enough, but it bothered me. Still does, evidently.
What I want is pretty simple. I want her to be her fierce little self. Her joyful self. Her kind self. What I don’t want, is for her to be polite. I just wish I had the words to tell her what I mean.
Know what I mean? Leave a comment below ↓