Yesterday, Rae and I had one of our most ‘intense’ talks as mother and daughter. I may have traumatised her a little bit with some of the many dangerous scenarios a child may face everyday.

But it was just time.

It was after the millionth time I’d told her to stop doing something that could’ve killed her that I decided, to hell with it, I was just going to have to tell her the ugly truth. I thought I’d been simplifying things, avoiding the complex reasons as to Why A Child Must Always Listen To Her Parents so said child could understand, when all I’d been doing was postponing the inevitable. She’s a smart kid. Plus she’s gonna be going to kindergarten next year, so she might as well take the next nine months to sober up to the fact that there are dangers out there for which she must be prepared.

But what really broke her stubborn exterior wasn’t really fear for her own safety. It was when I explained to her the rationale behind our ‘going out’ rules, ending with a little scenario where something bad happened to Skyler, and not her, that she finally caved.

Our rules are simple: Stay close to mommy and/or daddy; Stay safe by listening to mommy and/or daddy; and Eyes Only (so no touching anything unless we say it’s okay).

Okay, so not so simple to a four-year or two-year old, but there they are. These three rules are drilled into them on the way out of the house, getting into the car, walking around the supermarket, but being kids, they still manage to forget (or as Rae likes to put it, “It fell out of my head”). Yet, we trudge on.

The intense part came when I told her about the danger of getting lost in the unpredictable, sometimes hostile World Outside. Like any normal kid, Raeven bolts the minute we walk through the front doors of a supermarket or when we go to the park. Still, getting lost did not scare her (“I can find you, Mommy!”). But the prospect of someone actually luring her, or rather Skyler, her little sister, away with candy or the promise of something interesting or pretty, while making a grab at either of them, did the job.

When the words “Imagine if someone took Mei Mei (“little sister” in Cantonese) away. Imagine if we never see her again.” left my mouth, I could see her freeze, her eyes widen with terror and suddenly, her mouth turned down and quivered slightly. And before I knew it, she shattered into tears. Truthfully, I’d never expected that to happen. Until then, I had no idea she cared so much for the sister she constantly squabbled with, and took toys away from, and tortured on a daily basis.

She cried. I cried.

“I doooooonnnt waaaaaaaaant that to haaaaaaaaaaappeeennnn!!!”

A variety of emotions assaulted me. I felt happy I’d finally seem to have gotten through to her the gravity of the situation, and yet felt guilty for traumatising her with such dark facts of life. At the same time, the wonder and relief of knowing that my four-year old, who’d seemed to dislike her younger sister so much, was in reality quite fond of her, that imagining life without her actually hurt.

Through a blanket of tears, I asked her how she felt about that. Well, it was bloody obvious. Still, I wondered if she knew.

“Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddd!!!Scaaaaaaaaaaaaarreeed!!” Rae wailed.

When Rae went to bed later (she now sleeps in one of those Ikea loft beds, with Skyler’s cot underneath), she went up to her sister, who was thankfully oblivious to the drama that had ensued (we had the talk in the next room).

“Goodnight, Skyler. Love you,” Rae said, smiling gladly, eyes still wet, happy that Sky was still present, still close to us, safely in bed. She reached over to touch her sister’s hair, and climbed up to bed. My heart melted a little bit more.

I still am not sure if I should’ve told her the things I did, but part of me knows at the very least she now actually knows, and more importantly, FEELS, the importance of listening. That when mommy screams, it’s for a damn good reason.

Well, most of the time.


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