Kiki had been alone in the car all the way to French on Tuesdays and I remembered her friend from school also lived in France when she was little so I asked her parents if she'd like to come along. They said yes so today I drove them the 40 minutes there and the 40 minutes back. The friend has a little sister and the noise in the backseat was something I have not yet experienced, as the mother of a single child. Kiki will typically sing along to the French songs, we'll discuss something, or she'll doodle in one of the countless journals littering the back seat. Today it was loud. They were having fun - the whole way there and back. Giggling, pulling, pushing, playing, yelling, teasing:
'Mum! Say 'I eat poopoo'.'
'I eat poopoo.'
'Hahaha!! Say 'I am a poopoo'.'
'I am a poopoo.'
They were really giving me the shits, with their playing and having fun. I realised this must be what it's like to have a family, not just a kid. Separating quarrels, telling them to pipe down, pulling the car over, leaving them in the Rob's Restaurant car park.
I imagined these were both my kids, and this was my life. Then I dropped the girl off. And all was quiet again. Kiki, true to her usual form, brought up exactly what was on my mind.
Let me preface this by the fact that at nearly 6 years old, Kiki has pretty much let me off the hook in the baby brother/sister stakes. If she had started hassling me at age 3 I surely would have been unable to withstand the guilt. But she never did. She seemed born to be an only child; happy in her own world, in her own words 'glad to have all the attention.'
But there it was:
'Mum, why don't I have a baby sister or brother? I want a little baby sister or brother. There's only me. And my toys.'
My heart crumbled and died.
'I don't know honey, I might be a bit old now.'
'Can't you and daddy just have another big kiss and make another one?'
Flashback to Paris. It's two years ago, Kiki is three, we are riding to Fnoo's house with her godfather Lukie. It's a balmy night, she is calm on the back seat, all is well. As we stop at a set of lights on the Avenue Voltaire her little voice pipes up:
'Mum, how did I get in your tummy?'
I took a breath. Did she have to ask that now? Luke was a wordsmith, a poet.
'Umm... well, Daddy and I made you sweetheart.'
'How did you make me?'
Luke didn't look at us but I knew he was listening.
'Well, we had a beautiful big kiss and cuddle. And then, there was this incredible explosion of love. And that created you!'
I was rather proud. I felt I had given it enough abstract power for her to feel she was both magical and real. Luke seemed to nod a silent approval.
That she remembered this description tonight made me dizzy. She listens to me. She hears me. I am a mother.
We pulled up at Springs Beach and I looked around at her.
'I will try, but I don't know if I can make another one my love. But what I can promise you is that even if you don't have a little brother or sister I will fill your life with people, wonderful people, all around you, and give you adventures, and make your life awesome.'
I thought I nailed it. But she just sighed and looked back out the window.