Friday, 28 June 2013

Moths and Butterflies

Mr. S. has let a large moth in as he arrives from late-night soccer. It flutters helplessly, hopefully around his head, brushing the lights in the kitchen.

Safiya and I are still up. Making arrows.

Mr. S. looks at us in bewilderment, a little like the moth.

Safiya starts whisper-informing him what she's been up to, the what, when, how.....while Mr. S. is still stuck on "why?" We look at each other and do the usual wtf-what-do-i-know tiny parent shrugs that we do when confronted with this changeling daughter of ours from a world that we left behind so long ago.

When Safiya asked me to help her with the arrows earlier in the evening, I thought she had hit a specific road-block that she needed my help with - adult help. She's been working on various arrow projects ever since her friend made her a bow. It has become one of her treasured items, regularly housed in our front entrance, and the impetus for an ever-refined arsenal of arrows which she carves and embellishes. Tonight she was waiting and waiting for my help while Zinadine fell asleep, and finally I asked what it was that she needed.

"Oh, I just want your help finishing." Huh. I pointed out that she'd been sitting around reading and could've finished a couple of arrows in the meantime, and she pointed out that she helps me with things all the time. So then I pointed out that those things are usually like, chores. You know - important stuff that makes the house we all live in run smoothly......wait wait wait. back up.

For the next little bit I processed what I had just said. And I remembered something I'd read recently, don't know where. Something about the fact that you always feel like yourself, and that the things that are important to you don't change in their importance as you grow up. That is, the stuff is different when you're younger, but it's just as important.

This was her work! Crap.

"Hey honey, I guess you making arrows is as important as us doing laundry."

Sidelong, knowing glance from child.

"It is to me."

Lesson verified.

Now the moth is in the living room as I write this, nuzzling the paintings on the wall as Safiya hands me her latest plans of how she's going to carry the arrows in lieu of a quiver.

Then a big yawn from her and a "I'm soooo tired". Now she's perched half-way up the stairs, leaning over the banister, dress half-off, head sticking out like an awkward pink patchwork caterpillar, asking something. Mr. S. and I start giggling 'cause she looks ridiculous and self-assured and far too un-self-aware. It is a weird place to be, this twilight of the child.

I go to let out the moth.