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Fast ones…

June 9, 2010

“Toad, Toad, wake up,” said Frog…

“Look at your garden!!!”

Toad looked at his garden…

Little green plants were coming up out of the ground…

“At last,” shouted Toad,

“my seeds have stopped being afraid to grow!!!”

“And now you will have a nice garden too,” said Frog…

“Yes,” said Toad,

“but you were right, Frog…

It was very hard work…”

— in Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel

Last week I was wrestling with myself in indecision about whether to go to bata de cola class or not…

I told myself,

Just wait until it is clear…

and you know exactly what you want to do…

I sat and waited,

and waited,

until it was right down to the wire…

and then the phone rang…

A good friend calling from out of the blue…

This good friend and I worked together in my last two years of teaching…

before I resigned from the district…

We were a happy complement to each other in that classroom…

with that magic group of children…

and I am so glad to know that she is still there…

seeing them all through to grade seven…

We hadn’t talked in a long time…

but that never matters because we always pick up exactly where we left off…

like it was yesterday…

And there is never any need for apologies or excuses…

because the connection is clear…

We started out the call with a giggle…

because she was calling from her aqua office…

and I could hear her splashing around like a mermaid…

I asked her how her daughter is,

and if she’s involved in a triangle…

The answer was an immediate affirmative…

She wondered how I knew…

I told her that my daughter is in a triangle too…

I asked if her daughter is the stealer, in the middle, or the victim…

She laughed and said,

Apparently,

my daughter is the stealer…

I said,

Oh then we’re in good company…

because so is mine…

Our daughter’s stories were mirror images of the other…

History playing itself out…

over and over…

Children flooding their parents’ sub-conscious pain with memories…

bringing what’s hidden up to the surface for an opportunity to be re-experienced…

and healed…

into stronger symmetry…

On the field trip to Victoria two days later…

I sat beside a mother I have, in the past, tried to avoid…

Her voice grates on my nerves…

But I bit the bullet…

as part of my project of rising above…

This mother immediately talked about her daughter’s story of longing…

and relief…

for finally having found a best friend…

She’s been looking since Kindergarten…

and it has taken until grade five for it to happen…

We’re so relieved…

When women tell me I’m one of their best friend’s…

or the only one they have ever known…

I get vertigo…

and two hands around the throat…

Being a best friend is not a point of pleasure for me…

it’s all consuming…

and connects me to a fear of annihilation…

If I’m up for dying to myself…

I want it to be of my own making…

without any weapon but a will…

to change…

I asked this mother if her daughter is in a triangle…

She looked at me with some surprise and said,

Why yes, she is…

I asked if her daughter is the stealer, in the middle, or the victim…

She said,

My daughter is the victim…

and this has been very hard on all of us…

Where does your language come from???

Are you studying this at the university???

I told her I’d withdrawn from the academy due to its incongruity with my desire for ambivalence and ambiguity…

I added that academics may write about such things in their textbooks and journals…

in an attempt to further scholarly conversations…

But I’m speaking from real life…

and the language comes directly from my ten year old daughter…

as she sees things…

This week Starshine told the self-selected victim in her triangle that she is sorry for anything that she has ever done to upset her…

She asked for forgiveness…

because she just wants things to move along…

And she’s tired of the conflict that is being created…

out of perception…

I told her that that was a big gesture…

and that I would not have been able to do the same thing…

And I reminded her that she is only responsible for what she does…

and not what other people do…

She said,

I know that…

but I just didn’t want to get into discussing the details of what everyone is doing…

or not doing…

or thinks is being done…

I just want things to change…

Funny how once the triangle was mended and re-established…

the victim wanted to challenge another girl in the school who is also so desperate for friends…

to a diss-off…

Despite persistent pressure…

and the fear of retribution…

the othered girl refused…

and walked away…

She’d learned from what went down last year…

and is trying to forge friendships in a way that carries more truth…

Starshine tried to corral what she felt was a discharge of negativity…

and mis-directed power…

and got bitten by the very hand that was asked for forgiveness…

It’s all I can do, as a mother, not to get involved…

and bang some heads together…

But I know that isn’t what these girls need…

My job is to guide my daughter with my own behavior…

and a find a place of compassion…

So instead of taking matters into my own hands…

I’m writing it all down…

in a process of clearing…

and letting go…

Last night when I was snuggling Little Gem to sleep I asked her what she was going to dream about…

She whispered,

Dogs…

Old English Sheepdogs…

I said,

I’m going to dream about a really good friend coming for Starshine…

One who is smart…

and funny,

and mature enough to use power wisely…

Little Gem held my face in her hands and said,

with a smile,

Oh Mama,

that special kind of trouble is right on its way…

Oh look out you rock n' rollers... (photo: Starshine)

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