Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't turn around!

"Don't turn around, Mum, she's right behind us!"

Sapphire's blue eyes are stricken and stressed. I reach out for her hand as we walk to the post office with the letters we need to send off.

"She's talking about me; that's why she's walking slowly so that she doesn't catch up with us."

Sapphire's head now droops from her neck so that her gaze is firmly on the ground.

I stop. "Mum," she hisses, terrified. "What are you doing?"

I smile. "I'm turning around and I'm looking at her."

Sapphire tugs at my hand desperately. "But Mum, now she knows that I know she's talking about me and----"

"That's right, love, she does know. And if you keep walking along like someone's just punched you in the back and you're ashamed of it, she's won. She'll then see that you're upset and what she's doing is working, so the key is to show that you don't care and you're not upset, okay?"

Her face is blank and she tugs at me again. We continue walking. "Mum I don't get it."

Fair enough. "Well, what we need to do is have a really animated conversation, like this----" I stand there, making elaborate hand gestures and laugh in what I hope is a hilarious and not creepy way. My hand touches Sapphire's shoulder and I lean in, pretending to listen intently and let out another guffaw.

A small smile appears. She gets it. "But Mum, what are we supposed to say?"



"Rhubarb. Whenever you're on stage in a background crowd scene, or when you watch 'Friends' and see people in the coffee house pretending to talk, they're usually saying 'Rhubarb Rhubarb' over and over to look like they're having a wonderful conversation."


I nod exaggeratedly. "Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb!"

She laughs and it is a joy to see the flash of her white teeth and the hair fall back from her face. "Oh yes Mum, Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb. And don't forget that we need to Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb..."

The girl behind us is forgotten as we both get into our vegetable-based conversation. Our laughs are genuine, the fun we have is true as we add expressions, physical responses to each other's sentences and react outrageously.

Soon enough the letters are posted and the girl has turned off at another street.

"I forgot about her Mum. Do you mind if I tell my other friends about this?"

"Go for your life."

We walk back up the hill towards home. She's gone through a recent growth spurt and there are signs of womanly curves and new length in her legs but to see her skipping unconcernedly a few metres ahead of me makes my chest actually hurt.

I'll never tell her that rhubarb is my least favourite food.


Pandora Behr said...

Why don't we as people come with an instruction manual? Why don't you write one on pre-pubescent girls - you're doing a fantastic job. Oh - and rhubarb - in a crumble, baked with ground ginger - magic.

Kath Lockett said...

I think there are already a few books out there Pandora - Sapphire's reading 'Find Your Tribe' at the moment and I've got 'Queen Bees and Wannabes' on the teetering pile of books to read on my bedside table.

I'll take your word on it re the crumble...

Jilly said...

How could you not want a slice of that cake? Yummmm.

franzy said...


Am I right, team?

ps. Don't forget to watch Mean Girls. Lindsay while still cute and Tina Fey while still not that famous.
Based on Queen Bees.

Helen said...

I think Rhubarb should get a temporary pass for making her laugh!

River said...

Another tip for Sapphire whenn she sees this girl is to look straight at her, smile and wave, then walk on. Hard at first, but the other girl will get the message that she hasn't "broken" Sapphire.

I love rhubarb and apple crumble, warm, with warm custard.

Lorna Lilo said...

Rhubarb Rhubarb. Another crowd scene recital is red leather yellow leather, red leather yellow leather, try saying that after a few chardonneys.

drb said...

thumbs up for both of you!
xo :-)

Chestnut Mare said...

I love rhubarb!!!!!

Kath Lockett said...

I'll see if I can rent out 'Mean Girls' this weekend.

...and maybe, just maybe, see if I can get myself a slice of the crumble and see if my childhood dislike of it has disappeared.

Radge said...

I'm not a fan of it either, a bit sour for me. I'd still rather that than cucumber, eggs or eggs, though.

Christ I hate eggs.

Wally The Walrus said...

Dig out the Harry Secombe / Eric Sykes movie "Rhubarb".

Tastes awful though.

Baino said...

Very good advice Kath although I have it on good authority that 'bit part' players and the corps de ballet talk about their knitting! She's just learned a valuable lesson. Shrug it off as if you don't care . . no reaction and no fun for the teasers! I love rhubarb, used to eat it with nothing but sugar in the centre!

Lidian said...

You are one fabulous mom! I loved this story, it reminded me of some similar moments with my girls.

Am not a fan of rhubarb either - except as a word used for exactly this purpose :)

Helen said...

Ummm. STOP...
DON'T tell the other girls! Tell her it's her secret Kryptonite, for her and mum's use.
If she tells the other girls, word will get back to That Other Girl, sure as I'm sitting here. It'll be used against her.
Tell the other girls when they're, like, 30 and they're catching up in the pub with old stories of school.
MMM, Rhubarb. Send me all your rhubarb and pumpkin if you like!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I didn't read your post because it had pictures of and mentioned rhubarb which is, without doubt, the most evil foodstuff on the planet - if not in the entire universe.





Jack42 said...

I have heard that the expression "elephants and rhubarb" is even better. My friend and I used to say elephants and rhubarb at different speeds and pitches and it does sound just like a big crowd of people. We wanted to know if the speech sounds were important so we practiced saying "brabur nda snefele" (which is the same thing backwards) perfectly. If you try it with Sapphire you will see that it sounds like a big crowd with the sound going backwards. Quite hilarious.

Nicole said...

What a heart warming story! I hope I can be that strong for my daughter when she gets older and has to deal with other girls! I am terrified at the thought of her growing up and having to face that!