Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Day Six - Appreciative August


As Franzy has so insolently predicted with 'chocolate' (coming very soon, folks), my month would have a gaping hole with an bitter arctic breeze whistling through it if I didn't include my daughter Sapphire as one of the things I'm incredibly grateful for.

A few of you already know that she was a surprise packet. Having a brain tumour right behind my eyes that decided to create a new planet of prolactin and take on the entire endocrine system meant that I was less fertile than the Murray Darling salt pans and unable to bear children.

As Shakespeare would be inclined to say if he was living in our millennium, 'Yeah, right.' What felt like Langkawi Lurgy after our Malaysian trip in 1998 was actually the first stirrings of morning sickness. I'll never forget looking at the first of three preggo-testing sticks in bemusement, wonder, terror and utter excitement.

.......which was not unlike the Endocrinology unit of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, who then held a staff meeting to discuss how in the hell they were going to treat and monitor a medical freak like me. And get a paper published in the relevant journal.

After forty weeks, three days and twenty nine hours, eight pound Sapphire arrived at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Carlton. In the three days we remained in their care, I used to risk tearing out the drips and catheters when twisting to get a closer look at the tiny little being sleeping peacefully in her clear plastic tray on a trolley that masqueraded as a cot. How on earth had Love Chunks and I made something as amazing as this?

Perhaps being a medical marvel added extra lustre to her existence, because as soon as she was able to focus her big blue eyes, she'd look at anyone passing by and wait until they made eye contact. When they did so, she'd break into an enormous smile which made even the toughest bogan down at the Heidelberg West Mall go all gooey. Shop-keepers would serve us first and the chemist gave me all sorts of free samples after Sapphire seemed to be clapping at his skill in dispensing pills from his three-foot high counter.

We'd walk around the corner to childcare and the older kids (well, they seemed old, at ages 1 through to 4 compared to our then-nine month old) would rush to hold her, prop her up with pillows and see who could encourage the first of her many infectious giggles to emerge.

As a twenty-one year old smart arse, superior being, graduate trainee and general know-it-all, I swore that I'd never become a cliche or view married life in the suburbs as anything less than second best. The 1980s perming lotion must have curdled my grey matter, because every day since then - and especially since becoming a mother - I've realised just why cliches are cliches: they do happen; and when they happen to you, you notice it, appreciate it and learn something.

And so it has gone with Sapphire. Seeing her lift her feet right up under her nose when noticing them for the first time; her first real laugh, word ("Ess" for our dog, Tess), solid food (mooshed up carrot), steps and flower (she ate some of the petals before I could get to her). Her first day at school, tennis, karate, guitar, recorder, on rollerblades ("Be careful!") and on stage.

Even now, at age nine, she still likes to hold my hand as we walk to school together, looking at Glenys' lovely rose garden, the moggie who likes to sun himself on top of the wheelie bin and classmates who wave from cars passing by. We sing little ditties until she whispers at me to "Stop Mum, we're getting too close to the school now," or pretend we're speaking another language or accent. I nearly wet my pants last week when she did the best Mr T impersonation ever: "Get some nuts....fool!"

After school and after her chores are done - collecting the eggs from our three chooks (whom Sapphire has named Hermoine, Luna and Ginny), unpacking her bag, feeding the rabbit and setting the table, we both like to spend time in her bedroom. Bedrooms are, for most kids, their castles. All their very own in terms of decor, objects d'art, prized possessions and forms of entertainment. Sapphire is no different. Beanie kids, books, art works, tiny dolls' house furniture for her miniature stuffed toys, guitar, recorder and a teacup and saucer given by her Great Nana.

She has the 'Mamma Mia' soundtrack on the CD player, and her head is bowed over some notes she's taking on Eastern Grey Kangaroos for her class project. Skipper the bunny is in his box at her feet, nose continually twitching, Milly the dog is on the bed with me as I read a novel and automatically rub her ears.
"Hey Mum?"
"I love hanging around with you."
"Same here, sweetheart."

It's gonna kill me when she no longer wants to hold my hand, be seen with me or do anything other than grunt, "Nothin" when she gets home after school, so I'll make the most of the time I get with her.
As she's said to me on more than one occasion, "Mum, sometimes I feel as though I'm the grown up and you're the kid, especially when you say naughty silly things and eat Dad's chocolate."
Too right.


Baino said...

There's one cliche you shouldn't anticipate and that's the 'terrible teens' . .mine weren't at all terrible. They were fun, brought friends home and I felt like a halfway house most of the time. In fact if anything, the teen years cemented our relationships because there were issues to discuss, opinions to be thrashed out and the emotional roller coaster that is 14-18 to be dealt with. She sounds like a perfectly well adjusted young lady . . .oh. . .keep being silly! Works for me!

River said...

Isn't it amazing how fast they grow. one minute they fit between your elbow and wrist, next minute they're starting school. Blink twice and they're off to their first job.....
I found my kids teen years not so bad either, although I'm pretty sure they did a lot of stuff that I just never found out about.

Kath Lockett said...

Nice to hear about the teen years not being so bad - I'm just worried that life with Sapph is just so good now that the comeuppance is bound to come when puberty hits!