What a fascinating first three weeks.

After Raeven’s first day of school, she told me she did not eat any hot lunch save three bread sticks because she thought she had to pay for it and had no money. I’d forgotten to tell her school lunch was already paid for. And she lost her classmates at second recess and cried for me.

And then I went and checked on her two days later, and found out that lunch money was the least of her problems because my six-year-old, who’s so used to being waited on hand and foot (not my doing, I assure you) does not even know how to carry a tray and walk faster than two steps per minute, and because everyone else was faster than her, she got all teary-eyed and upset.

Last week, she came home with her bag zipper wide open and her school folder was missing. Turned out she hadn’t taken it home in the first place.

Yesterday, Raeven came home without her lunch box and her school folder. The moment I asked her where they were, she exploded into a fit. That’s my girl for you. Embarrassment is something she doesn’t deal well with and I for one, am not a person who deals very well with ego.

“STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!” she yelled at me. We hadn’t even begun. 

For one minute, all she did was run away from me, refusing to answer my questions about where she’d last seen her things, worried that her school folder might contain something important (this is the second time she’s misplaced it and it’s Week 3 of school!). 

“I forgot okay? I am forgetful!!!” she screamed. It broke my heart. 

Finally, I sat her down and in a loud, firm voice to get above her yelling, told her to calm the heck down and that I was only asking her so that we could think of what to do next. She finally did, telling me she thought she’d left her lunch box on the bus because she remembered putting it next to her, and that her folder might still be in the classroom because her bag was all zipped up so it could not have fallen out. 

“See? Once you calm down, you can figure out stuff,” I told her. To this, she grunted indignantly. 

This morning, I asked Tanya, the bus lady, if she’d seen her lunch box and she promptly handed it over. You should’ve seen the grin on Rae’s face.

I can’t wait for what’s next.

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Firstly, thanks for all the well wishes and comments, dear friends. Once in a while, I’m reminded that I wrote the last post by my email inbox with someone asking if everything is okay and good, kind wishes. They really do make a difference because although I may not know some of you personally, it is a reminder that I am very much not alone.

The good news is, I am moving on from The Incident. Let’s just leave it at that. Everybody is okay, and so am I, and everyone is stronger for it. There is too much hurt and suffering in the world, and not enough forgiveness and survival and true, solid, unconditional love. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. While this is as bad as it gets, there are worse things in the world. More importantly, my family, our love for each other and the way we have come together, the circumstances, the time, the magic, have made us stronger than The Incident. If we fall apart over our first lemon, what does that say about us, all those things we believed ourselves to be? I’m glad we made lemonade enough to last us a long time.

People thrive from having emerged scathed but alive from a challenging situation and I want to be one of them. Two weeks later, I am still standing, I am happy and I am frankly a little astonished I am doing these things because I am my mother. I am paranoid and have grown more paranoid with kids. But look at me, mom. All the pieces are in. Nothing is missing and I might even have picked up a few more along the way.

So don’t you guys worry about me. I am okay.

Plus you guys have seen the photos right? That camera was an essential piece. It has, in more ways than one, given me perspective.

Thanks again, friends. You guys are awesome.

But I’ll not be blogging a while.

My photography thing is taking off well and I need to keep it in the air if just to be sane.

Things are not well at home but it will not be this way forever. One of my favorite things I say to people in grief, is this too shall pass. And I am saying it to myself.

Whatever choices I make, I hope you will support me, my Internets. Weak and in pain and vulnerable as I may be now – imperfect to the very last drop – I am strong because I am a Tai.

A little bit like a roach but ever more resilient. I will survive this.

Blog for love and peace, y’all. 

ps. before I go, here’s an oldie but a goodie.

Pain has a sweet odor about it
I think of that moment
that pang
and I taste saccharine
like a fake sick

My heart, my chest really
a bruise forming
thumping, slowly
beating pumping
holy shit it hurts

Someone pass me
another round of rum 

There are photographers, and then, there are photographers.

Jim and his wife Lori wrote a wonderful little story about my blog and a book club I’d started and then the little preschool I helped to found just a few months after we’d moved here to our little town.

Many of you may remember this photograph that Jim took:

River Current News pic

I found out about Jim’s passing a few days ago and he’d already been gone half a year.

I did not know much of Jim, except that he took one of the best pictures of my family (one I’ve enlarged and put on cards and passed around until now). Lori was kind enough to share with me this link to his portfolio and I am humbled.

Here was someone who had dedicated his life to a craft I’m just starting to pick up. Words fail (or maybe I just don’t know enough of them) to describe the mixture of sadness and honour I now feel to have been one of his subjects, even if it had been only a while.

Rest in peace, Jim. I hope you’re still making beautiful pictures wherever you are.

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I am pretty sure there are Impatience and Easily Bored genes. If one of you Human Genome scientists could just find them, I need someone to do some sort of a splice on my daughter because man, I am running out of ideas on how to make her more patient and extend her attention span beyond two minutes.

We are trying to get through her summer homework and I’ve been telling myself to go easy, but man, we still have an inch more of all that paper to go through. Everyday, right before lunch, we sit down for two pages of beginning math (which I supplement with a Nintendo DS game called Professor Kayegama’s Cell Math – I think) and two pages of writing (all from the big pile her kindergarten teacher gave us right before summer hols) and at bedtime, we usually read a chapter from a chapter book (Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is on now) which she has no problems with since reading is her favorite of the lot. But man, the math and writing is driving me up the wall because my daughter is, to put it nicely, spirited.

For example, she likes to “do things her way” – her exact words – rather than do things the right way, such as writing along the guide lines or counting with her fingers when counting in her head does not work. It’s all great but then she gets frustrated when the words don’t fit onto the page because she didn’t follow the lines and can’t get her math answers right because she counted it wrong in her head. And then she throws a fit and begins to sob over the fact she’s frustrated and refuses to finish. 

And YET, the very next day, she STILL decides NOT to follow the lines or use an abacus or her fingers.

Now a lot of people will say, “hey she is spirited, not wanting to be limited by lines!” or “she’s spirited, doing subtraction in her head!” and pretty soon, some will even say, “hey, getting it right is overrated!” but I am pretty sure simple subtraction and writing in straight lines are relatively standard expectations of a six-year old who could discern that five minutes is not as long as half an hour when she was four, especially when I gave her the warning to turn the TV off.

I am someone who values methodology and process. Not everyone does but I think at the very least these things should be respected. You may be a genius but the laws of the universe, and sometimes, the laws of man, still apply to you, whatever you may think.

Now I am proud to have a daughter who WANTS to be creative and spirited and wants to add a little challenge or fun into mundane things like homework but I believe there’s a time for everything (especially when you’re a SAHM!). And I think that it’s high time someone told my six-year old that her first grade teacher may not find it very funny when she decides to do things her way, writing vertically instead of horizontally, or takes all day to subtract three from ten because she insists on using her head, a head that is probably filled with, “If I buy THREE Barbies from the store which has TEN Barbies …hmm, how would life be with THREE more Barbies?”

And that was exactly what I told her this morning.

“Now you have to do what Miss A says. You can’t just do it the way you like, that’s not how it works,” I’d said, a little pissed off by then.

My six-year old thought about it for a while and went, “I’ll do what my teacher says.”

“Good. So do it the way I told you to do it. Use the abacus.”

“But you’re not my teacher.” she’d answered crisply.

And then there are days when you want to drive to the gas station and buy a pack of cigarettes and pay a visit to the liquor store next door. 

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