A short story
September is a month of abundance - flowers, foliage, full moon...and tonight the pale orange Harvest Moon looms large on the horizon – Katie and I are in the back yard at dusk. "Let’s write a story about the moon wearing a Pumpkin mask for Halloween," I say. "It should be in October, that pumpkin moon, shouldn’t it, mom?" says Katie. With cooler nights yet still warm days, September sun gilds the air. Brown-eyed Susans, purple coneflower and pink-tinged hydrangea are drooping under the weight of such fullness (a bumper crop, a bellyful of flowers, if we could eat them).
The garden this time of year is riotous with purple Sage battling the cucumber vines growing up the cedar hedge, and something brown I thought was yarrow. The garden is too full of bees buzzing so my girl won’t dine outdoors. ‘But it is the best season, the finest weather’, I say, but she refuses to eat on the patio.
‘Come join me on the swinging chair,’ I call to her now, but she only alights a moment, jumping over the wet grass in her pristine white socks, then flits over to the trampoline. Ugh, a fat spider sits weaving. She screams and goes indoors.
‘Mom, you are my idol,’ she says later that night when I invite her into my bed for a snuggle. When I ask why, she says ‘because you have everything I want – a nice house, two kids (gorgeous kids like me) and a good looking husband’ (he is cute, isn’t he, I said) ‘and you’re so full of love’ – (‘Oh, but I whisper under my breath, you will be less cranky and impatient than me.’ ‘Yes, of course’, says she.)
Kissing Katie good-night is never short and quick -- she kisses my left cheek, then my right cheek, reaches up and places her arms around my neck in a deadlock, plants another kiss on my lips then up to 30 more kisses if I let her -- all over my face. Butterfly kisses with eyelashes, Eskimo kisses with noses rubbing. Nine-year-olds are good kissers. Sometimes I get impatient and want to get to my own bed where glorious sleep will envelope me. Sometimes I sing, K-K-K Katie, beautiful Katie....
Her other favourite drawing-out-bedtime routine is “Guess how much I love you mommy?” where we outdo each other with incredible numbers – as many as there are stars in the sea, as many as the blades of grass in the whole planet, as much as the distance from the earth to the moon. This usually goes on for as long as I can stay awake, standing in the doorway with one foot out the door, or until my exhaustion starts to show and I try to ease out with a quick good-night.
Earlier in the swinging chair, I had bowed my head, tired after battling insomnia the night before, and said a silent prayer of forgiveness to my mother, having suddenly come face to face with my own similar shortcomings – and not having the heart anymore to condemn us both to coldness and bad feelings for the rest of her life. Thus, I assuage my guilt about being a rebellious teen-age daughter, and hope my prayers for her happiness will ensure my own happiness, and that of my daughter as she enters the pre-teen years.
Just for tonight, I let myself be cajoled and held by Katie. I know she fears being alone at night in her own bedroom. Even though she is supposedly big enough to sleep alone, I am too tired to fight her off and send her back to her room. All day she has wooed me in a flurry of drawings, poems and scribbled notes on scraps of paper: Je t’aime maman! Passionate, headstrong Taurus foil to my passionate, stubborn Scorpio. So just for tonight, I let her stay a bit longer, hug her and tell her that she’s gorgeous!
By the time she’s fourteen, I know those kisses will be rare. We'll be missing that abundance.