Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Feeling shell shocked.

I always wondered what the words shell shocked meant. I vaguely recall it having something to do with the trauma experienced during a war situation. I may be wrong. Today I feel shell shocked.

Yesterday things were going on as as usual. Tara came back from school and everything was normal. I had decided that morning to make an extra special effort with her since she had been ill all through last week, never complained and came back after another good day at school. So I had planned special games including swatting a balloon with plastic fly swatters, an old favourite that we played a lot when Tara was younger.

She was excited and laughed and picked her pink swatter and gave me the blue one, and we played in the living room. A few seconds into the game I hit the balloon a bit lower so it went along the floor rather than up in the air. Tara frowned at me once and said, "Hit it properly Mummy!" I said I'm trying. When it happened another couple of times, Tara rather aggressively told me to hit properly. I walked up to her and told her I did not appreciate her tone, we were having fun and if she would rather not play that was fine. We could do something else. Her frown turned her pretty face into something quite nasty and she mumbled that she still wanted to play. So we did.

I looked away for a split second and my balloon must have gone to the floor. I turned back to Tara and in slow motion saw her charge at me with her swatter, hitting me in what I can only describe as pure rage. She must have hit me a good three or four times in those couple of seconds while I instinctively put my arm over my face, and she turned to walk away.

I walked towards her, snatched the swatter away, bodily lifted her up and stood her in a corner near the main door. I put away the balloon, told her to stand in the corner until I said so. A howl loud enough to make the neigbours knock on the door emerged from her lips and she started crying loudly, taking deep breaths and retching at the same time. I told her to keep standing while I set about tidying the room and composing myself. It was at this point I experienced what I call feeling shell shocked. I had a choice then. To allow myself to feel what I was feeling, or go into Mummy mode and do what I think was right for Tara. I chose the latter.

Ten minutes later I asked her to turn around and march up the stairs to her bath. There was pure rage in my eyes when I looked at her and my voice was low and loud at the same time. I told her looking straight into her eyes and shouted, "This is the first and last time you hit Mummy. Hitting of any kind is not allowed in our house. This time I made you stand in the corner, if there is a next time I will make you stand outside the main door. Do you understand?" Tara looked up at me with tear filled eyes, said yes and went up to the bath. I left everything alone till the bath finished and she came down for dinner.

It was a quiet dinner with the tv on. After that there was an uneasy calm and silence in the house. I went about my work suspending all play and reading of books for bedtime. Tara didn't touch any of her toys choosing instead to do writing practice by herself followed by picking up her own things and putting them away. She then lingered near my chair, making circles with her toes, occasionally shooting glances at me amid silence in the house. I had to stay calm, rise above everything and give her a break. So I asked her sternly if there was anything she wanted to say. She started crying again and said she wanted to hug me. I was waiting for an apology but none came. I allowed her to climb into my arms and hug me while I rubbed her back.

The phone rang. It was The Husband. I took the call in another room and quickly updated him. We agreed that he would be normal on the phone, and ask her if there was anything else she wanted to say to him. It was a fascinating phone conversation between Daughter and Dad. I left the room while she spoke to him. After the usual talk of his work and her school was done, The Husband asked her if there was anything else she wanted to say. She added another nugget from her day at school. He must have asked her at least five times if there was anything else, but she said no, there was nothing else. I took the phone after she was done, amazed that she could keep this entire episode to herself.

I continued with my work, and to my regret asked her if she wanted to say sorry. She looked at me quizzically as if I had asked for something extraordinary, and mumbled a meaningless sorry and walked away to do more writing practise.

At bedtime I quietly followed the usual routine. Near her bed she asked if she could sleep in my bed tonight as she was scared and wanted extra cuddles. I thought on my feet, and told her she can cuddle me for as long as she wanted but had to sleep in her own bed. So she clambered on to me, put her lips into the nape of my neck and hugged me for the longest time while I held her close and rubbed her back. It was strange. I had anger inside me which was being controlled by a rational calm brain, but the feeling I had at that time was pity for my Tara.

Tara mumbled she was sleepy, so I tucked her, kissed her and forced myself to say the usual words of I love you and she was asleep in a second.

I left the room totally shell shocked.

No comments:

Post a Comment