The kids found a dead crow in the park today, and set upon it at once. Sticks were brought out to poke it, and the brave in the pack touched it with the tips of their shoes.
Princess came running over to, roses in her cheeks, to tell me all about it. "So it's a CROW, and it's DEAD, and now we can look at it. Come see it! Come, Ima!"
Now, when I was around Princess' age, I was the original animal right's activist. Maybe the first one who couldn't spell it yet. I would cry when my neighbor poured water over an ant's nest, and spent hours trying to save as many of the insects as I could. Baby kittens, abandoned and milky-eyed would get bowls of cream. I could not kill spiders, nor did I want anyone else to. Nowawdays, I protect the stray cats in the park when children try to torment them. I fully expect to wake up one day and discover that I am the neighborhood Crazy Cat Lady (and every neighborhood has one, no?) with long stringy grey hair and a horrible screechy voice. And cat smell.
ANYWAY, Princess was pulling in my skirt and inviting me to gaze upon the sad little corpse of the dead crow. "No, Princess. I really don't want to. Looking at things like that makes Ima sad."
Princess puzzled over this. "But I didn't kill it!"
Oops. "I know, sweety. But just the idea that it is dead on the ground instead of flying in the sky and will never fly again makes Ima sad. So I do not want to see the dead crow. Okay?"
Thought bubbles apeared above Princess' head. They all said something to the effect of, Oh wow. I am only 4 1/2 years old, and I have been saddled with a loony mother. This is like those movies. And I don't know how I know that, because I've never seen a movie in my life.
So she shrugged, released her vulcan death grip on my skirt, and skipped off to play with the lifeless bird who had long since gone to The Great Windshield In The Sky. Mothers shouted out to the tight group around the crow, telling them that it was full of germs and dangerous, but the Call Of The Crow was too strong. They stood there, the world against them, but nothing would make them abandon their passion.
Five minutes and two recipe exchanges later, a bloodcurling scream echoed around the park. Mothers heads picked up collectively, eyes scanning for their progeny, and relaxing when they realized, not my kid.
Eyes wide with panic, she ran into my arms, trembling all over. "They--threw--the BIRD--at me! And said--I was gonna--get--SICK!"
I shushed and soothed, and held her. But she would not calm down. She looked up at me, eyes filled with unshed tears, and asked in a quieter voice, "What's going to happen to me?"
I told her nothing, nothing, nothing's going to happen, you will not get sick, it just touched you, and there is nothing to worry about, Ima is here.
"Who did it?" I whispered in her ear, and she pointed a shaky finger at the brown haired, brown skinned girl a few feet away rom us. Mean girl! Nasty girl! She was the girl who responded to Princess' friendly overtures by sticking out her tongue at her, who made the merry-go-round spin extra fast when Princess attempted to go on...nasty girl! Mean girl!I held my hapless daughter closer to my chest.
That was two days ago.
Yesterday, a girl called me on the phone. She spent the first ten minutes apologising for calling and then finally explained; apparently Princess had been bothering her daughter in gan. Teasing her, taking things away from her, throwing sand in her face from the sandbox. I told her I'll look into it. I did. I questioned Princess, who looked confused and innocent. The teachers were no help. either. ("how's my daughter?" "oh, she is so sweet and cute!" "oh, I bet you say that to all the pretty mothers.") So, I'm not really sure what the real story is, but it did shake me out of my little black and white world.
You see, if my daughter is a bully, they can't be Those Nasty Mean Girls. I mean, I guess I knew that. They are 4 years old, after all. And I knew that when I wrote this. But the satisfaction of knowing that my daughter would never do that is all gone. Simon and Garfunkle wrote that they'd rather be the hammer than the nail, but I think that the world is much simpler and clear-cut when you are the nail...but life is not like that, I suppose. I cannot cloak myself in self-righteous indignation anymore.
It's like the world is shades of gray! And not black and white! Or something!
Does that mean that my annoying neighbor is really annoyed BY ME?
No. That's just taking it too far.