It’s scary in my room

I came across a story I wrote for my young daughter this morning and decided to share it with you.  I plan to make only one copy of this once I finish the illustrations so Wee B will have a one of a kind book of her very own.

Enjoy!

It’s Scary in my Room

Fresh from her bubble bath and snuggled by the fire in her pink pajamas, Brianna played happily with her favorite dolly, Melanie.

“It’s time for bed Sweet Pea”, her daddy called from up stairs.

Brianna jumped up with Melanie squeezed in her arms.  It couldn’t be bed time already, she thought.  Her room was scary at night, and she didn’t want to go.  Then she had an idea.  Maybe if she hid, just maybe, Daddy would let her stay up a little while longer.

On tippy toes, Brianna and Melanie pitter-pattered into the spare bedroom, climbed the side of the giant bed and crawled under the puffy covers, leaving only their little pink noses poking out.

“Where is my little Sweet Pea,” Daddy sang as Brianna listened to him creep down the creaky stairs.  “Is she in the toy box?”

Brianna watched through the bedroom door as he pulled out a fluffy brown bear, and a noisy red train.

“No, she’s not hiding in the toys,” Daddy said.  “Is she behind the sofa?”

He crouched down to look behind the fat green sofa.  “Nope, she’s not there either.  I wonder where my little girl could be.”

Clutching Melanie tighter, Brianna couldn’t hold in her giggles.

Daddy leaped into the bedroom and peeled back the covers.  “I found you!”  He tossed Brianna and Melanie over his shoulder like a little sack of potatoes, and trotted up the stairs with her, laughing all the way.

After a frosty glass of milk, and an extra long brushing of her tiny white teeth, Daddy took Brianna’s hand and led her into her purple bedroom.

“But it’s scary in my room.”  Brianna hugged Melanie even tighter.

“Oh dear,” Daddy said with a gasp.  “I didn’t know Scary came to visit your room.  Why don’t you show me where he hides and we’ll chase him away?”

Brianna scratched her head and scrunched up her face.  After a little think, she nodded yes.  “In the closet,” she said with a shudder, pointing a small finger towards the white doors in the corner.

Daddy pulled the doors open with a creak and a squeak.  He looked high, around pink and white dresses, rain coats and Halloween costumes, under the Easter basket and over the summer hats and behind the colorful box of zoo animals.

Brianna looked low, crawling around sneakers, slippers and pink sandals with flowers on the buckle, under yellow rubber boots with blue polka dots and over the ladybug backpack and behind the green laundry hamper with dragon flies on it.

“Did you find Scary?”  Daddy asked.

“No.”  Brianna said with a sigh and a smile.  “We must have scared him away.”

“Where else?”  Daddy asked.

Brianna scratched her head and scrunched up her face.  “The bed,” she whispered.

Daddy looked high on the top bunk, around the dollies with red hair and curly hair and blond hair in pig tails, under the purple quilt and over puffy pillows and behind the fuzzy pink pony.

Brianna looked low, around the stray socks and books and her fluffy grey kitty, under her favorite pink blanket and over the green bear that Grandma gave her and behind the poster of her favorite princesses.

“Did you find Scary?”  Daddy asked.

“No.”  Brianna said, smiling even wider.  “We must have scared him away.”

“Anywhere else?”  Daddy said.

Brianna scratched her head and scrunched up her face.  “The desk.”  She pointed to the little wooden table beside the bunk bed.

Daddy looked high on the shelf, around the crafts of pipe cleaners and glue and toilet paper rolls, under paper drawings of houses and suns and over a box of crayons and behind the pencil sharpener.

Brianna looked low, around the chair with its green squishy cushion and wobbly legs, under the pencil box with a rainbow on top and over books about ABCs and around a lamp in the shape of a lamb.

“Did you find Scary?”  Daddy asked.

“No.”  Brianna said with a smile as wide as her face.  “We must have scared him away.”  She leaped into her Daddy’s arms and squeezed him.

Daddy nestled Brianna into her bed with Melanie close beside her.  He read her a book about trains, kissed her round cherry cheeks and tucked her cozy blankets around her.

“Thanks for chasing Scary out of my room Daddy,” Brianna whispered as she closed her eyes and pressed Melanie against her face.

Once in a while Scary came back to visit, but when he did, Brianna and her Daddy knew just what to do.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

        

Our adventures in Toronto

Last week the hubby had some business in Toronto for a couple of days, so Wee B and I tagged along for a mini vacation opportunity.  Although our 5 year old has been across the top of the city (via the 401 to Grandma’s house) before, she’d never actually been right down town.  It was fun to see her marveling at the tall buildings, endless sidewalks and bright, flashy lights.  People really live all the way up there in those towers?  But where’s their backyard?  And the trees where they hang their hammock?  And their fire pit for campfires?

I think she has a new appreciation for where we live.

So, we land at the Ramada Wednesday night on Jarvis street which just happens to be right smack in the middle of the red light distract.  Nice, right?  Believe me, the hotel wasn’t our choice, but when it’s free, I don’t tend to complain much.  For a little local culture, we thought we’d take Wee B for a walk down to the Eaton’s Centre to see the giant Swarovski Christmas tree.

About ten steps out of the hotel door, we happen upon two men cracking one another in the skulls, grunting and cursing up a storm as they landed their blows.  A hooker in a black skirt so short that it barely covered her butt cheeks looked on at what we assumed to be her pimp and a john.  Stunned, we just stood there like idiots until it finally broke up and we’re able to keep walking.

The inevitable question comes:  Momma, what were those boys fighting about?  Uh … I guess they just had a disagreement, or … something.  I mean, what do you tell a little girl that’s too perceptive for her own good?  She seemed to buy my explanation to my relief, though she eyed the hooker with obvious suspicion.

The next day Hubby went off to his event and Wee B and I headed off to the subway station for her first underground train ride.  It’s been about eight years since I’ve ridden the subway, and I just about fell over when I saw the price of tokens.  However, we paid our money and climbed on a flashy new subway car.

Besides having to deal with the rush-hour crowd so thick we were standing in the aisle like a couple of sardines, and I would have fallen on her at the next stop if some nice old man hadn’t grabbed me from his seat, Wee B seemed to enjoy it.  Even better when said nice old man got up and gave us his seat.  :)  Thanks, whoever you are!

Mid-morning, we arrived at the ROM, or Royal Ontario Museum for those of you who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about.  Wee B is infatuated with dinosaurs since watching Dinosaur Train, so that’s what we went for.

I hadn’t been to the museum since elementary school, and no, I won’t tell you how long ago that was!  It was a lot more fun than I remembered.

They had so many dinosaur bones and little activities for kids, we spent an hour and half going through them all.

She even got to go excavating for bones!  How neat is that?  As she uncovered the bones, she had to guess what it was, then the nice lady helping us showed her on full skeleton what it actually was.

My girl could have spent hours and hours there at the three sites they offered.  One even held a full baby dinosaur skeleton she uncovered bit by bit.

A big fan of her rock collection, she got to pick out some polished ones from the gift store and take them home.  Of course, she picked out only pink and purple ones, being the fashionista she is.  :)

That night after Hubby finished with his event, the three of us took off to the CN Tower.  She’s standing beside a miniature one here.  It was all lit up with red and green lights.

We rode up the external elevator (with glass panels in the floor, I might add) to the 117 story height of the main observation deck.  Yikes.  The best part of the whole trip for me was when Wee B looked out over the lights of the city and shouted:  Daddy, I can see the whole world from up here!

The two of them walked out on the glass floor that allows a glimpse straight down to the street level while I cowered in the corner with the camera.  They even went outside where the wind just about carried them away.

During this trip she asked me a lot of hard questions.  Why is that man laying on the sidewalk under a newspaper?  Why is that old man with the big bushy beard wearing high heels?  Why don’t many people here look like we do?  Why are there big fences around that bridge? (about the Bloor viaduct, where the city erected anti-suicide barriers)

It was a good reminder for me just how lucky my family is and also that I’ve been a bit lax about exposing Wee B to life outside of our small town.  The experience opened an excellent dialogue with her about hardship, different cultures and religions, and even some of the grittier stuff I’d like to pretend she never needs to know about.

All things considered, it was a most educational adventure.

        

The hardest and best day of my life

I woke up this morning cuddling my daughter in the crook of my arm, drawing in her sweet scent of strawberry shampoo from her hair.

My husband was hugging us both.

Everything was right with the world.

It made me remember a little story I wrote inspired by the day she was born.  It’s partial fact and partial fiction and I decided to share it with you below.

Savior

A halo of light surrounds me.  Faces appear and disappear above mine, none I recognize, their eyes reflecting some grim vision they share.  Mouths open and close, their jaws flex.  They’re shouting, but the voices echo in my ears, distorted and meaningless.  I try to see what frightens them, but find nothing but strangers in a frigid room filled with the scent of alcohol and sickness.

My body jerks.  A piteous scream pours unbidden from my lips.  Cold prickles dance along my skin as I wonder why everyone is moving so fast and why the pain doesn’t relent.  Today is supposed to be a good day, a day of transformation, of new beginnings.  How did I come to this hell?

A weight presses on my stomach with such ferocity my spine creeks.  “Please stop!” I scream, writhing on an icy table, but none acknowledge my pleas.  Hands of strangers hold me down as the torture continues.

“Call for an OR,” shouts a man in green scrubs.

“What’s happening?”  My hoarse voice is barely audible.  When the only response is the man’s creased brow and tightness around his eyes as he pushes down on my abdomen, my breath quickens along with my pulse.

A woman speaks in a low voice.  A phone receiver clicks down.  “There aren’t any available, Dr. Reed,” she says.

He utters something low and sharp.  I don’t need to hear the word to know he’s cursing.  “Bring me the longest syringe we have, and someone take my place.”

A nurse takes over my assault as the doctor snatches the syringe from a red-haired woman wearing a purple flowered nursing outfit.  He presses his thumb against the plunger, flicking the plastic barrel to dislodge the tiny bubbles.  Clear liquid dribbles from the end of the needle as long as my forearm and glistens in the blazing light over my head.

“Don’t,” I plea, but once again, nobody looks at me.  Do they hear me?  Does my voice not come out of my mouth?  Tears well at the corners of my eyes and my teeth commence a violent, uncontrollable chatter.

My muscles contract as the doctor stands over me, orders the nurses away and rubs my skin with something cold.  I cry out as he plunges the point into my belly and injects the burning liquid.

The relentless pressure on my abdomen increases along with the urgency in the doctor’s voice.  Warmth and wetness spreads beneath me.  My face flushes hot.  Have I wet myself?  Weakness overtakes me, sucking me down to a dark place with the promise of sleep.  I know then, what I feel is blood, my life gushing from my body.  I can’t feel afraid, only grateful the pain will end soon.  My eyelids droop.  The light dims as the room fades to shades of black and white.

Someone cries on the far side of the room, halting my descent into the abyss.  My eyes open wide as I search for the owner of the haunting sound.  Beyond the sea of nurses, my sister paces in front of a dark window, a clenched fist pressed against her lips.  Tears form a silent river down her cheeks.  I continue my search, catching a glimpse of my husband in the doorway.  His skin is a mottled mixture of pallid white and pale green.  He holds a hand over his mouth, the way he does when he’s trying not to vomit.

The crying continues, but my torturers close the gap around me, blocking my vision.  Their voices dwindle to murmurs and the sound of my blood roaring through my veins rises above everything.  The agony finally ebbs to a steady burning ache.  Am I dead?  A sob bursts from my dry, cracked lips.  I don’t want to die.  I want to comfort the one who calls out to me.

A nurse places a warm hand on my forehead, smiles down at me with pink glossed lips.  “Everything’s okay now,” she says, dabbing my tears with a tissue.  “The doctor’s just finishing up and then we’ll get you cleaned up.”

I blink at her.  What does that mean?  Am I—alive?  I raise my trembling hand and marvel when it obeys me.  My other one is strapped to a board, one needle taped to the back of my hand and another in the crease of my elbow.  The red-haired nurse helps roll me over as another applies warm clothes to my backside.  Shivers wrack my body as they move me, in a choreographed move, to a soft bed in the corner and drape heated blankets over me.

All but one nurse disappears from the room, leaving a steady rhythm of blips and beeps from the monitors connected to me.  My sister sits down beside my bed.  Her chin quivers and her fingers grip my blanket, but my eyes look past her for the one I need to see, the one who can convince me I’m not dreaming.

The remaining nurse sets a wriggling bundle of blankets in the crook of my arm.  “She’s beautiful,” she says.  “Congratulations.”

I gaze down at the pink cocoon in my arms, at the tiny face poking out the top.  Her mouth opens in a continuous wail.  I caress her cheek with my fingertips and sing the lullaby I’ve been singing to her for months.  She opens her little blue eyes and peers up at me in silence.

For months I’d been terrified of this moment.  How could I possibly know everything a mother should know?  How could I deal with the responsibility of a new life when I could barely take care of myself?  How could I give her a name she’d bear forever, to keep her safe, to know what to do when she’s sick?  As I stare into the mirror of my own eyes, all doubt fades away, replaced by a sudden peace, a knowledge that I’ll do anything for this little one in my arms.  The mother bear in me is born, and she’s fierce and sure.

My husband sits on the bed and looks at his daughter, the same bright joy radiating from his eyes as I’m sure must be in mine.

“I almost died, didn’t I?” I ask.

My sister stands beside the bed.  She nods.  “The doctor said he’s never seen anyone survive a hemorrhage that bad.”  She smiles through tears.  “I thought we’d lost you.”

I smile and draw my baby closer so I can kiss her soft forehead.  “I heard her calling for me.  She saved me.”

I’ve never been a believer in miracles, but holding this new little person who’d grown inside my body, of my flesh, of my bone, of my blood—I believe.

Tell me about a profound moment in your life.  I’d love to hear your stories.

Check out the interview appearing on Aimee Laine’s blog this morning.

        

Why books are more than just words

I think many of us have a story we remember above all others.  Maybe not because of the snazzy cover or even because of the story itself, but because someone took the time to read it aloud and brought the characters to life in our minds back when we were still young enough to have a fantastic imagination, yet old enough to appreciate an interesting tale.

For me, growing up on a farm didn’t allow a lot of time for reading that I can remember, not even at bedtime.  I was the youngest of five children–by a mile.  Chores came first, and learning, a distant last place.  It was the way of things and it was a good life.

However, there is one moment that sticks out in my mind and always will.  Every time I think of it my heart gives off a little glow.  My second oldest sister, Kathy (ten years my senior) and I were about as different as two creatures could be and still be the same sex and species.  She was the mom in training and I was the tom boy, riding my motorcycle and driving heavy machinery, all with my head in the clouds.  I’m sure we had our battles, but that isn’t what I remember most about our time together on the farm.

This particular day in my memory, she sat me down on the front veranda and started reading from Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. The scent of fresh cut hay and clover perfumed the air.  It wasn’t Moon-Face, Silky the fairy, The Saucepan Man, Dame Washalot, or Mr. Watzisname that affected me so profoundly, but that my sister took the time to read it to me.  Yes, the magical tree that reached into the clouds, leading to a different fantastical place each time, kept my attention and thrilled me to no end, but without my sister giving animation to the characters, it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable. I’ve already purchased the entire series to read to my daughter.

So you see, a small effort by my sister began a love of stories in me that I’ll pass on to my daughter, and hopefully she’ll do the same if she decides to become a mom.

The words on the page become so much more when read by a loving voice.  A child will always remember the time spent with them. It doesn’t take a lot of time or patience, only a book, a quiet corner to cuddle up in and a pair of ears to listen.  And they will listen.

What story do you remember most as a child?

 

 

Fit in? Or be unique?

My daughter will be five next month. 

Already I see myself in her, not just in her appearance, but in her individuality and stubborness.  While we’re at home together, I try not to hinder her wild creativity in any respect. 

She wears six barrettes in her hair, clomps around in high heels wearing nothing but her underwear and one sock.  She mixes her paint colors until her pictures are mostly brown.  Sparkles cover her body head to toe instead of her artwork.  She writes stories about Spiderman saving Princess Brianna from a pirate ship in Madagascar where Zaboomafoo lives.  It’s all good.

Now that she’s in school, I worry her rather unusual fashion sense will see her ostracized from her group of friends. 

So, how do I walk the fine line of protecting her feelings against cruel kids without hindering her individuality?  How do I explain that green leggings, a pink and black leopard print skirt and a red paisley shirt don’t match in most people’s eyes? 

Or should I? 

Part of me says yes, and part of me says no. 

I want her to be the bright, creative, unique individual she is, but I also know what it’s like to go to school in clothes that didn’t fit in with the others in my group.  I grew up on a farm and didn’t know anything about fashion until I was an adult, as those sorts of things weren’t important in my life back then.  It still hurt when those little jabs came.  “Nice pants.  Did you get dressed in the dark?  Did your grandmother lend you her clothes?” 

At least it helped me sort out who my true friends were.  I can look at it that way now, but as a kid it devestated me.

The thought of my daughter coming home from school in tears because someone made fun of her outfit makes my heart hurt.  She’s confident enough she might be okay and stand up to anyone who made fun of her, but then again, she might not.  This morning we made a compromise after some ranting and raving about the red flowered tights and pink t-shirt she was determined to wear to school. 

I asked her to pick out the one piece of clothing she absolutely had to wear – which happened to be a shirt.   Then I offered her some options that matched:  a pair of jeans, a white skirt and leggings and a pair of yoga pants, all of which she poo-pooed.  Eventually she chose the jeans and went off to school satisfied with her outfit – mismatched socks and all, but it took some serious negotiating before she would agree to something reasonable.

Did I do the right thing?  Who knows.

I know it will only get worse as she gets older.  Yeah, not looking forward to that.  Here’s hoping her unusual style begins a new trend.

What would you do?