here’s the thingpublished: 2012-02-23
Here’s the thing. You want to pack your little boy’s things because he’s going on a holiday. With his dad, your ex. A word you hate to use. “His dad” is almost just as bad. And you want to pack his toothbrush and his cuddly toy and a pyjama and underwear and sunscreen and bandaid and candy and also an apple and a colouring book and matching socks. You really want to do all that. But it’s all been taken care of, says his dad, when you call. And then you call again to ask what time they’re actually leaving. You don’t know all these things anymore.
And even though his dad has everything covered, you still pack something. A swimming trunk. And mosquito spray. And a bottle of dettol. Your mother always told you to take a bottle of dettol with you, wherever you go.
His dad rings the doorbell and your little boy is jumping up and down. How long is the flight, dad? Do I really want to know? Very long. It’s far away. The sun is shining there. It’s warm. You don’t want to be reminded of how many hours it would take you to get there. You ask his dad whether he’s put paracetomol in his bag, not in the suitcase, no in his handluggage. Your little boy’s ears hurt sometimes, you know. It irritates dad, he isn’t a fool now is he? And so he wants to leave. You kneel down and you squeeze your little boy’s cheek. He squirms to release himself of your embrace.
“Have fun,” you say. And you stop yourself from saying “I’ll miss you.” You can’t say “I’ll miss you.” You can’t cry. You’ve done that before and it made your little boy cry. You bight your tongue and your cheek and smile.
“Have fun,” you say again. You look at his dad and tell him to say hello to everyone there, to all the friends. You are reminded of the life you had. And then you stand on your balcony watching them leave. Happy, is what they are. Happy.
Then you step back inside into the messy silence of your home, your little boy’s toys are scattered all over the floor. And you take place in front of your laptop. You have work to do. You’re so tired from working so hard. Ten days, you think. Ten days. And you have work to do. And then your neighbours come home and you can hear their cheery chatter in the hallway. Mom, dad and two kids. They’ll be having dinner soon. You realize it’s dark and you still only have that one light on. But still, there’s work to do.