It is six a.m. C is sleeping in the bed next to me. We have a holiday today, and she called me yesterday in the early evening to ask me to get permission to come down. She wanted me to get permission for her friends to come down also, but that didn’t work out. I called the principal and he said students needed to have leave requested by the person they are actually going to stay with. Which made sense to me.
I didn’t tell C this until I got there. Then she began to discuss with her friends. She said to them, “We will say…” And I told her we are not going to lie to your principal. Her cousin appeared then, looking kind of forlorn. I hadn’t thought of her. I had assumed her dad must have arranged for her to come down. I felt very sorry for her in that moment. I can’t remember what I said, but C didn’t want to leave without her. First, I told her cousin to call her dad. Then C said if her dad was free to take them down, she wouldn’t have called me in the first place. I couldn’t really see how a man can be too busy to make a phone call so that his daughter can come home. That was sort of beyond me. But C was angry. Maybe less so at that particular moment, but as soon as I told her we were not going to lie to her principal, I got full-on Angry Child. Very angry child. This time, Angry Child was not that easily consoled. She has been before. Not this time.
I don’t actually know what motivates the different modes she is in, what sparks them. I know she never got a chance to be this child, or to have her angry child self accepted and soothed. Once it happens, I know what she needs, but I don’t really know why it happens. If I needed to rely on words to make the connection, I don’t know what I would do. I try to say understanding things—like that she is disappointed—but I know that is kind of not the main event. The main event is that I sit there, and I am not reactive. I am concerned and interested, and on hand.
Anyway, I told her cousin to stay in my house. This seemed to take some time to convince her of. I don’t know why. They wrote a leave letter then and we went. C was still in a state, but holding it in. We went to her uncle’s house from there. I guess I was there for three hours with her. C spent most of the time in the kitchen. I helped her small cousin with his homework. He was supposed to write his alphabet. It is hard for him. He has been copying them without paying attention to how the letters are meant to be formed, and it means the way he is making them doesn’t always flow smoothly. It is more difficult because of the way he is doing it. I praised him a lot, which I know he didn’t understand any of—I don’t think he actually knows more than five words of English. But it’s the tone of voice you use, isn’t it? Like C and her Angry Child that I actually don’t know the reason for. It’s implicit. It’s tone of voice. It is body language. Words do count, but not all the time.
C was cycling through modes the whole time—I could see it. But it was kept in. They weren’t that apparent. A serial came on and men were hitting each other and I could see the rage mount in her. It wasn’t normal involvement in watching a TV show. It was really and truly rage—not Angry Child, I think, so much as Detached Mode kind of rage. I thought if I were a child, that face would terrify me. She is a child and I am an adult. I feel worried, but if she is still like this when she has her own children, it is going to be terrible for them. My heart kind of bled for her, and I wished I were here longer. It doesn’t have to be that way, and yet it might be. What I can do is so limited. I don’t want this cycle to continue, and yet it might, just because she doesn’t know how to stop it.
It’s terrible. She is such a loving child and a caring child. Whenever she has something nice to eat—junk food or whatever—she will give some of it away to someone if she meets them on the way to where she is going. I have seen her do this two or three times. If she has 2 bags of chips—and usually she won’t buy just one of something—she will give one of them away to someone.
No one has to ask her to help. Her uncle sat down to tear mushrooms, and he did not have to say anything to her. She began to help him.
It doesn’t have to be like this. She doesn’t have to cycle through rage and shame and pushing away the people she cares about and not giving a fuck because it hurts to care, and yet she didn’t get the care she needed when she was small, and now it might be like this for her.
Anyway, we had dinner then, and C swept the livingroom. (Country X-ers eat on the floor, make a big mess with rice eating it, and then sweep up after.) Then C kind of stood there. “Are you ready to go?” She was. So we walked the short ways to my house. There was a group of men walking by us, and C stared at them with big eyes. It made me feel frightened for her, and I put my arm around her.
We got to my house, and she got into her bed and played on her phone for a long time—maybe two hours. I slept fitfully. It was like some part of me felt she was an infant, and I needed to be aware of every need she might have. I guess when she finally slept, I also slept more soundly. She talked in her sleep a few times—nothing alarming, just talking. I have no idea what she was saying. I stroked her hair, and she settled again. She pushed my hand away and she settled. It’s odd, because things help her, even when she is pushing them away. She needs to push, but she needs the thing she is pushing away. Sometimes. Sometimes it is like that, and sometimes she needs that thing to actually stop. I think I know the difference now, maybe. Not all the time. But sometimes I do.
It’s a miracle having here sleeping. It feels that way.