An unhappy easter
Easter wasn’t Jenni’s favourite holiday at our place. Mainly because I pooled the eggs and spread them out over the next few weeks. I didn’t this for two reasons. One was because I didn’t want them to pig out so much that they were sick, the other was more practical. Suzanne didn’t eat much chocolate at a time. Her chocolate would have last weeks, much longer than the other two and I knew they would not be happy if Suzanne still had chocolate and they didn’t.
Despite what the psychologist had said in the beginning, there was no way that Marty and I would keep Jenni from her mother, other any other member of her family. They had regular contact and Jenni would go and have holidays with them. One Easter, she went to her mothers and she didn’t come home. Her mother rang and said she wanted to stay there with her.
My head really understood it. There she was the baby, and there was much more money and processions to go around. At our house, she was the eldest, and we had very little in the way of material goods.
But my heart was sad. I cried all afternoon. I felt a complete failure. I obviously didn’t do enough to make her happy and feel a part of us. Maybe I was too strict, may be yelled to much. I went through the last few months looking at what I could have done better. It was also hard telling people she wasn’t coming back. Taking back her school books, talking with her teachers and classmates.
We had to create a new way of doing things. In some ways having one less mouth to feed made things easier. One less person to get ready in the mornings. One less face to kiss good night.
My panic attacks got worse for a while and I got quite depressed. I never went to the doctor though, I didn’t see the point. It was an expense that we didn’t need and all he would do was give me more pills that I would throw away after a couple of weeks. But the reality was, I had Suzanne and Simon to take care of and I had to pull myself together. We were still spending most of the day at Kohanga.
Simon was the darling of the Kohanga. Visitors would want to hear this cute blond pakeha kid talk Maori. Matangi and were still writing songs and have fun with the guitar and there was always something new to learn. People came and went from the kohanga. Some went on to Merivale Primary. Others went to other schools.
One thing I was really concerned about was how little family time we had. Going out with Suzanne was a mission. We always had to think about, where we could change her if we were out and about. She was too big for baby change tables. I was really worried about what Simon was missing out on. We would leave Suzanne in the car for short periods, while we went for short walks but this was hardly ideal.
In fact it was on one of these short walks at Whakamarama, that we discovered something new about Simon. We were following a trail in the bush. We told Simon to follow the red tin lids nailed on the trees. He ran ahead and we got lost. He hadn’t seen the tin lids. They were bright red. When we found the path again, we asked him to look for the tin lids. he couldn’t see any. Marty picked him up right in front of one. He felt it on the tree but he still couldn’t see it.
Simon was colour blind. I knew it was a possibility, my older brother was and so was an uncle on my mother’s side. Just another thing that I could blame myself for. Self blame was really a big part of my life back then. When we went on picnics, I used to deliberately forget something, something not vital but always something,
Weird logic I know but it stemmed from my childhood. When I was a kid, it seemed every time we went on a picnic, if something was forgotten it always seemed to me my fault. I figured if I forgot something unimportant I would remember all the important stuff.
I had a social worker at the time from IHC. She believed in empowerment. When I said I needed someone to take care of Suzanne so we could do stuff with the other kids, particularly in the school holidays. She said I should find someone to do it, they would pay them. What she didn’t realise that I just didn’t have the energy to do that. I was too stressed and depressed.
So I did nothing. We just managed on our own the best we could.
© Barbara Hart 2014