Sunday, June 27, 2010
Of Little Blisters And Dresses On Backwards......
My Dad came to get me from school for lunch and took me home on the back of his bicycle. Mum wasn't there when we got home and Dad told me she had gone to a special place in town to get us a baby sister. He promised to take me to see them after school. Then we had lunch and he took me back to school.
I was a quiet child, and shy. But this news was too huge to hold inside me! Breaking all the Senior Infants class rules, I left my seat and walked up to Miss McCarthy's desk, and whispered to her that I had a brand new baby sister and my daddy was going to take me to see her after school! To my mortification and astonishment, Miss McCarthy did not think this was a good enough reason to leave my desk without permission. She scowled at me and told me to return to my seat immediately. I crept back to my seat with a very red face. It was a cruel lesson, one I've remembered all these years. Anything nice that Miss McCarthy said to me, or anything encouraging or hopeful that I may have learned from her, were completely overshadowed by that scowl, and that dismissal of my wonderful news.
The OC had a similar experience. His family had just arrived in the U.S. from South America, where they had emigrated from post-war Europe when he was a baby. Having had his first few years of school in Argentina, he spoke fluent Spanish. He also spoke Ukrainian, which was his parents' native language and the main language spoken in their home. But,as yet, he did not speak English very well, though he was learning. His teacher asked him a question which he didn't understand, so she told him he was stupid.
My heart aches for that little boy, and for my six year old self, although the OC believes it is nonsense to dwell on such things. But I think events like these form and transform us. The wars and the toppling governments, the hurricanes and the tsunamis, the earthquakes and the collapsing bridges, the scandalous conduct of politicians, the abuses we are capable of inflicting on innocent children and defenseless animals all affect us greatly, but seemingly insignificant, personal events, like these, colour our thinking about who we are, about our place in the world and our value as human beings.
Imagine a world where everyone acted nobly; where no one abused the power they had over others. Imagine all children growing up confident that they are loved, and lovable, and worth listening to.....One day soon they will be the grown-ups. I doubt Miss McCarthy ever gave her sharp dismissal of my great news a second thought. Maybe she would be amazed that a woman, much older now than she was then, still remembers that day in Senior Infants. And if that insensitive NY teacher could see how un-stupid that little boy turned out to be, maybe she would have the grace to be ashamed.
Well! I seem to have gone off on quite the detour there. The Little Blister's birthday was last week, and that was what I intended writing about. Not that I was there to help her celebrate or anything so exciting! But it was a momentous day for me, the day she was born.
First of all, since Dad didn't have much of a clue about such things, I got to wear my dress the way I thought it should be worn. After school, I changed out of my school uniform and into a pretty cotton dress my mother had made for me. It wasn't until we got to the nursing home, and were admiring the new little sister, that my mother gave me an odd look, and asked my dad why I had my dress on backwards.
Secondly, it was the day my best friend was born. Of course, I didn't realize this until years later. I spent the first half of my life trying to give her the slip. I guess I was as much of an insensitive clod to her as Miss McCarthy was to me. Realizing the error of my cloddish, big sister ways, I have spent the second half of my life trying to spend as much time with her as possible. Which is problematical when you consider that pesky ocean that lies between us.
Even though she has not been blogging lately, she is still writing. She was recently short listed [out of 1500 entries!] in a flash fiction writing competition [Big sisters are allowed to brag!] Her duties at The Palace keep her on the trot and in spite of all my exhortations she steadfastly continues to un-blog. But I am not giving up hope.
And just so you know, even though my mum is no longer around to check on me, I don't wear my dresses backwards any more.
Have a great year Rise!
Note: That's us in the picture when I was home last year. She likes to think she's taller than me, but as you can see, she's standing on a rock. I rest my case.