Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Saved by Red Velvet


It wasn't the best of weeks. Tissues and temperatures. The dust and dirty clothes ignored, forgotten for another day. We braved a museum, one with aeroplanes and helicopters and bombs laid out like little fat sausages. She didn't understand the associations with war. They made me feel cold. And after circling the hanger several times, sitting in a cockpit - diiiive, pull uuuup - we felt worse; her nose ran, my cheeks flushed. The following day, we sat on the sofa, did nothing, watched the box. It's easier when we're both poorly, no pressure to entertain, permission to flop and eat tinned beans. My biggest achievement was defuzzing a pair of bobbled jumpers. We were supposed to drive over to Cambridge for Younger Dad's actual birthday, a walk in the botanic gardens, afternoon tea. That didn't happen. He came over to us instead... began coughing.

And a bad cold can ferment the worst; raw feeling, a vulnerable heart beat.

'Mummy, I feel sad.'
'Why sweetheart?'
'I don't have a brother or a sister.'
'I know.'
'There are only three in our family. I want it to be four. Like my cousants.'
How was I supposed to respond? I'm sorry sweetheart but Mummy can't have another one, she would become very ill, and things are better now, normal, and besides, she'd rather push out a novel than suffer the craziness of hell fire hormones and lack of sleep... 'Mummy's tummy is too old to have another baby.'
'But I want four in our family.'
'What if we got a pet? A gerbil? Would that help?'
'Yes, then it would be four.' She carried on playing with a teddy, a grey bunny, mumbling to herself in thought, 'Mummy?'
'Yes sweetheart?'
'Will you be here for ever and ever?'
'I will be here for a very, very long time. When you are grown up and you have children.'
'Can I marry you Mummy?'
'I'm afraid that isn't possible darling. Children don't marry their mummies.'
'I'll marry my best friend Jake instead then.' Abandoning her short-lived game with ted, she made for a nearby plug, switching it on and off.
'You know not to do that, it's dangerous,' I said.
'Mummy, what does electricity look like?'
'Well you can't see it-'
'-does it go straight through you?'
'Yes.'
'Can it make you die?'
'Yes. You might stop working, die.'
'Mummy?'
'Yes?'
'Would you miss me if I died?'
Would I miss her if she died!!?? She was asking me to contemplate her death, an impossible world without her. I knelt down before her, placing my hands on her arms, barely focusing for the water collecting in my eyes. 'If you weren't in my world, I would be devastated, my life would mean nothing without you, you are my life Pupkin.'
Her bottom lip wobbled, into my arms she flew, bunny discarded on the floor, both of us sobbing.
'We need a bit of cheering up don't we?'
'Yes we do, I feel so sad Mummy.'

In Cocos, Little A ordered a small hot chocolate layered with soft marshmallows while I had my usual, a detox tea. And we shared a thick wedge of moist red velvet cake. It tasted good. We felt better. The sounds of Little A's pleasure as she peeled away the icing, pronged the sponge onto her fork, so taken aback there was real beetroot in each mouthful. A life affirming cake for a horrid cold. Comfort food in an existential crisis.

And that was one conversation I didn't want repeating again, ever... *sneeze*

If you like my writing, please, please, please could you vote for me in The Writer Category of the Brilliance in Blogging Awards (BIBS). Voting closes at midnight on 12th April. 




58 comments:

  1. Ohhh, those conversations are so hard aren't they? Absolutely heartbreaking, and somehow they always seem to come at the times when you are least well equipped to deal with them. Thank goodness for cake. Huge big love and hugs to you and Little A, I miss you both xxx

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    1. Probably the hardest conversation I've had with her so far.... they really start grasping things at this age! And thank goodness for cake. We miss you too! X

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  2. Aww this brought a lump to my throat. Beautifully written. Cake always cheers me up xxx

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    1. It was so sad talking about these things with her. Thank you *passes you a slice*. X

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  3. I've got those little tears too just from reading.. I can relate. I love that cake makes happy, I relate to that too x

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    1. It was a very tearful conversation.... and the cake made us feel much happier. #comfortfood X.

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  4. Ohhh gosh she's really thinking about it isn't she? My niece is 4 and apparently asking similar questions. I'm not sure id know how to answer it. You did really well xx

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    1. Tell me about it.... they take such a leap at every age! Thank you... I actually felt a little lost in how to handle it - cake was the first plan! X

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  5. This reminded me of the day my daughter found out about death. She was 3 or 4 and we were watching 'The Lion King'. So I took the easy way out and told her about heaven. Later on I found her playing with her Barbies and Susie, the miniature one with wild hair, was on the stairs. I asked what she was doing there and wastold she was dead and had gone to heaven. Once wrote a story about this.

    Will vote for you if I can work out how. Enjoyed you little book!

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    1. They learn so fast don't they.... all seems to happen when they are around 3 or 4 :o).... and thank you for voting (if you worked it out) and glad you enjoyed my little book! (and ps, always best to take the easy way out at this tender age.... so cake was a good option *winks*).

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  6. And this is just another reminder that cake can heal many things that words cannot! Beautiful as always. For what it's worth...red velvet cake is my absolute favourite :)

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    1. Cake is the elixir of life.... and the mender of many a broken heart! Thank you..... and I just adore red velvet too. :o).

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  7. Heartbreaking. Such a terrible conversation to have with your child. I think it affects us more than them generally but you just don't want them ever to think of such sad things. The cake sounds delicious though! Take care, hope you both get well soon. Xxx

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    1. Certainly broke my heart.... and it was a horrid conversation, and you are right, I think it affected me more than it did her! On the mend now, and the cake was really yum scrum! X

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  8. Crikey, so deep and profound. Wish we could bottle it. Take care x.

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    1. An old head on very young shoulders! Thank you. X

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  9. Aw ... this made me feel tearful - I cannot imagine my life without Peanut and thank god for red velvet cake ;-)x

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    1. I know.... it was horrid to think about such things, and thank goodness for cake :o) X.

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  10. Oh goodness she's a right little star your Little A - gets her thoughtfulness from her mum, don't you know. Poor you. Glad you rescued the situations so beautifully. I do wish I could give you a big hug XXX

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    1. Sometimes I think she's a little ahead of her time; perfectly precocious - but what a difficult conversation to have, also common at this age. And thank you, cake saved the day! X

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  11. Comfort can always be found in cakes. And Little A will always have a second slice should she want one ... one of the perks of not having a sibling and having to share ;-)

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    1. Tell me about it! Cakes rule! ....and yes, she can - she loved that red velvet cake, ate more of the slice than I did! :o)

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  12. Mortality is as frightening for us as it is strange for them, never an easy topic, but everything is made better by cake. Well, except maybe tummy aches! Xx

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    1. I know! It's such a difficult concept for anyone to get their head around! Such a huge thing to try and comprehend as a child - but the cake helped! X

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  13. Oh gosh..... cute, heart-breaking and heart-warming all in the one mouthful! Kids can have the strangest thoughts and conversations but it's good that they can say what they feel. I'm sure she feels so much better after it. And the hot chocolate and cake break! (Beetroot in cake??!!) xx

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    1. Thank you very much.... kids think about anything and everything all at once, but this time it was like watching an avalanche heading towards me; wasn't quite sure which way to turn! Yes, beetroot is in red velvet cake - it's what gives it the fab colour! X

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  14. golly, I could feel a catch in my throat as I read - they are really tough those chats. So direct and come from nowhere. Sharing cake was a perfect call, and what a beauty it is too! Big hugs lovely xx

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    1. It was certainly one of those conversations I don't want repeating again, although I'm sure it will... cake is always a good antidote though. Always. Thank you. X

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  15. Oh my. Heartbreak on you of a cold. Thank goodness for cake! That conversation seemed to bounce between one difficult subject to another with so many little A-isms yo make it cute. Hope you feel better soon x

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    1. It really wasn't a chat bogged down with a cold.... I couldn't think properly. Thank goodness for cake indeed. And we are most certainly on the mend now! X

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  16. It's amazing to me that at such a young age kids ask such searching questions. In some ways I like these conversations as they give a true insight into how they are trying to make sense of the world. In other ways they can be difficult though - you search for the right level of answer - one they can understand but doesn't overburden their young minds. In your situation I think a slice of red velvet would have been exactly my approach too. X

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    1. And I agree, incredible that they think about such big things at such a young age, how they really want to understand their world.... but difficult when those conversations come, like you say, it's all in finding their level of understanding, and then a good slice of cake! X

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  17. Oh my goodness - the questions little ones ask sometimes! I'm glad red velvet cake and a little spoiling restored the equilibrium all round - and I hope you feel better soon.

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    1. Tell me about it, and they always seem to come when you've either just got out of bed or are folding the clothes!? On the mend now!

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  18. Gosh they come to us with such deep and difficult conversations sometimes. Bless you and thank goodness for a like cake to help cheer you along. Mich x

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    1. Don't they just... and sometimes you just don't quite know what to say, and you try to do your best and say the right thing, and then resort to cake (never fails!). X

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  19. Oh bless, the things they ask. Kitty and I walk around our local cemetery every couple of months - it's a great natural surroundings for those kinds of conversations. That cake sounds totally divine - I think Kittys head would implode if she found beetroot was in such yummy cake!
    As ever, beautiful, beautiful writing - I do hope you are back to top health soon x

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    1. Tell me about it.... a walk around a cemetery, now that's a good idea; something I could do with LIttle A when she's a little older, and they are fascinating places too. And the cake was fabulous, the colour of it! Pleased to say we are back on the mend! X

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  20. A beautifully written post as always and a fabulous image. We've been having similar conversations here too, so tough. Difficult to know what to say. POD tells people I have a baby in my tummy at times, find that easier than the death conversation though! Hope you're all feeling better lovely x

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    1. Thank you very much, and doesn't that cake look good? They are tough conversations, all the more challenging in finding the best response that matches their experience - cake being the perfect back-up. And feeling better now! X

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  21. What a poignant conversation! I am glad you both felt better after sharing that luscious red velvet cake. xx

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    1. Yes it was, and a rather upsetting one. Thank goodness for red velvet cake - it saved the day! X

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  22. Thank you for sharing! Lovely post. :-)

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    1. Thank you for commenting. Nice to have found you! :o)

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  23. Gorgeous post and so well handled, my 4 year old asks a lot of life questions and it's often hard to know what to say when he's demanding answers.

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    1. Thank you very much! It gets challenging trying to find the right level to match their questions - tell them the truth but in a way that they understand.

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  24. Cake always makes things better.
    we are a family of 3 and funnily - we've never had this conversation about a sibling. Such a tricky one.
    I do worry about my son being on his own and wonder if, when he's older, I should get him a dog, loyal and dependable. I don't even like dogs but I hate to think of him ever being lonely. As for death, my mum's death has made death very real and understandable, it's also been a lesson in life goes on and actually it's OK. All big subjects. I'd rather eat cake.

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    1. Cake and smiles are what's important, and definitely cake in an emergency! Little A brings it up now and again as she has cousins with siblings; may go for the pet option. I do worry but something also tells me she's going to be just fine. Little A has experienced her Great Grandma's death and joined in with the scattering her ashes, and like you say this helped her realise that death is okay and life goes on...

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  25. Oh God you made me cry again. Thank goodness for cake.

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    1. Here's a tissue :o)... and a big fat wedge of cake!

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  26. I absolutely loved reading this...beautifully writtern, I could 'feel' the atmosphere! You most rightly deserve your nomination for Writer. All the best...pleasure coming across your blog. You'll see more of me here ;) x

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    1. Thank you very much! And likewise, you'll see more of me on your blog too :o). X

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  27. Awww, this was such a touching post. It totally made me cry. Such beautiful writing! x

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    1. It really made me and Little A cry too :o). Thank you very much! x

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