Yesterday was Teacher’s Day. Or Teachers Day. Or Teachers’ Day. They don’t seem to know. Anyway, we had a “program” at school. I came early to hang posters for a contest, which did not come out particularly well, because in typical Country X style, students (and teachers) kept submitting them after the deadline. We hung them and then had to rearrange them, and it did not look particularly nice at the end.
C wrote a Facebook update—I had given her back her phone on Friday evening, and she was busy making good use of it. It said, “Happy Teachers Day to all the teachers in [Country X], especially ma [sic] mama ash and sis…[IT Ma’am].” This was, I think within minutes of my sending her a text that I would miss her that day—either a few minutes before or a few minutes after.
I have started to think she needs to know she can be remembered and missed, and that she can continue to be present to me even when we are not in actual contact. She is continuous, and she does not stop existing or having value to people suddenly or out of the blue.
I had told her I was coming for the program in the evening at her school. She hadn’t looked happy about this, but I told her I wanted to see her cousin, and this seemed to be okay.
Anyway, at 2:30 or so when I was just dropping off to sleep for a nap, she sent a text asking for junk food and cake and pancakes. So I got up and began to get things together to see her. I had mixed feelings about complying with her demands—sometimes it feels that way, like a demand I am complying with. But I know this has never happened before for her. She has never been able to say, essentially, “Can we get ice cream, Mommy?” and have that be an acceptable request and something that can be enjoyed together. I don’t think she has been able to enjoy asking for a treat and getting it. I thought of a 5-year-old and the excitement of asking for a treat and thinking you might get it, and that’s just a lovely feeling for the child, isn’t it? That hope and anticipation. She has never had that before. She has had to weigh carefully whether the treat was worth risking psychological annihilation for. It’s terrible to think about it that way. Asking for the treat, and the anticipation of the treat, that’s really half the fun, isn’t it? Let her enjoy what it is like to ask when there is no fear of anger or rejection.
Also, she also cannot say, “Mom, I miss you.” She feels much less vulnerable asking for stuff.
I kind of weighed that—junk food and cake and pancakes—is a little overkill, but this is a child who has never been allowed to ask for a treat before. I felt okay about it. Actually, I felt really good about it. I felt she is getting a little slice of childhood. She is getting to be five. I can introduce boundaries later and suggest maybe she can get either junk food or pancakes or cake, but not all three. I am not starting from zero with C, where I am getting her accustomed to what to expect from me. I am getting her unaccustomed to something that was already there, which was having no voice.
I went up. She was chewing pawn when I got there. I know the smell, and I saw the packet on her friend’s bed, where she had been lying before I came in. So I took her phone away from her. There is no connection between the misdeed and the consequence, but I couldn’t think of anything better at that moment. She wasn’t happy about this, but she was accepting. She wasn’t devastated and didn’t tantrum.
Then I saw her friend drinking out of a beer can covered in black tape. I saw this the last time I was there and thought I was being paranoid. Now the thing is it appears to be the same can as the last time. So maybe there is not actually beer in it. It’s an extremely peculiar thing to keep around and sometime maybe I will go early and look at this can when the students are at evening study and I will see what it really is.
I somehow thought that this was a good time to discuss this with her. It wasn’t. I don’t know what I was thinking actually. Anyway, she was angry. The bell rang—I guess for tea time and she told me to go to the multipurpose hall where the event would be held. I went up. There was no sign of anything starting. Students told me maybe it would start in half an hour. So I went back down again. I met her cousin as I was walking down and she said something about C or asked something. I can’t remember. I said she’s angry at me right now. I took her phone away. That maybe wasn’t the real reason C was angry. Probably, she was angry for other reasons. I brought up her shame around alcohol, because both of her parents drink and it’s probably not an easy topic for her. But I made the excuse of the phone. Her cousin said, “Good. Don’t give it back to her. She’s using it all the time. I tell her to study and she gets really angry.” After a few minutes, C came back with tea, and she had a different expression. I motioned for her to come. Then her cousin says she is calling you to go inside with her.
So that was Monday. Lots of other things happened, but that was the main event.