I was convinced I’d miscarry Leila, laying on the floor of the bathroom somewhere in the Dominican Republic, vomiting bile all night long. I cried because if I survived, surely the baby wouldn’t. This is how it all ends, I fatally thought to myself, On a bathroom floor in the fucking DR.
Of course I didn’t die and neither did she, I actually just had a nasty bout of food poisoning. That was my first encounter with The Fear. It lives with me now, as it does with all parents, because I hold something more valuable than my own life. And The Fear is the knowledge that I could lose it.
Leila walked late (talked amazingly early, but walked late). She ran late, jumped late, coloured late, climbed late. She feared much. I fretted and worried and wrung my hands. But then she learned to jump and learned to run and climb and slide down slides and now talks to any and all strangers she sees. The Fear was assuaged.
It rears it’s ugly head seldom now, only during boughts of extreme sickness (like this past summer when she vomited for 36 hours non-stop). But here we are, well established as a pre-schooler. She’s smart and funny and personable and caring and, well, she’s wonderful. She has a best friend at daycare, Sami. They clicked the first day and have been as thick as thieves ever since.
Last week, Leila brought home a piece of paper with squiggly letters on it S-A-M-I. And a picture of two stick people. Sami and drawn and signed it for Leila.
Sami can READ! she bemoaned, and she says I CAN’T but I CAN! Well, no, honey, you can’t, I told her (she memorizes the stories and then recites them – not technically reading).
She recognizes a lot of her letters, but doesn’t have the patience to write them down. She carries around her pink book, writing grocery list and pictures (her stick men are really quite impressive, but the notes are just lines). We work on it together, though I don’t push her. Because she doesn’t respond well to it and because, what the hell, she’s only four. I figure she’ll be able to write her letter before school in September. It doesn’t concern me at all.
I packed her blanket, strewn sweater, stuffed turtle into her bag at daycare. I head out to the playground to get her, stopping to look at the drawings on the walls. Stick figures, better than hers. Letters, names, trees and even a dog. Beside Leila’s picture of four tiny happy faces. All the other kids know how to write? I thought. The Fear answered the unspoken question.
I shushed it down. Because what the hell. She’s only four.