My children aren’t my posessions but they are mine. They don’t belong to me but they are part of me, an extension of the good parts.
Lately, the news has been filled with Madeleine McCann once more, re-telling the horrific tale of her disappearance and the pain that her parents face each day. I remember when she was taken. We were on holiday in Kent, the three of us, as we were back then. The big one was a year younger than Madeleine was when she disappeared. After a glass of wine, my husband and I dared to think the un-thinkable. It all led from the distinguishing feature on Madeleine’s eye. The pupil that was an irregular shape. The marker, the piece of her that made her theirs and nobody else’s. My husband and I asked ourselves:
How would our daughter be looked after properly if she wasn’t with us?
How would ‘they’ know to cut the left thumb out of her gloves so that she can keep her hands warm in the winter but still suck her thumb? How would they know that foamy bubbles make her retch and shudder and cry but the bubbles you blow from the little pots are fine? How would they know which bowl is her favourite or which books she likes to read again and again and again? How would they do the voices in Farmer Duck and would they sit with her on bonfire night trying to help her understand that she is safe?
How would ‘they’ know that she likes olives when she goes out to dinner and she likes to have her spaghetti cut into small pieces and mixed into the sauce? How would they know about the rash she gets from tomatoes and the biscuits she likes to take two of so that she has one to eat and one to hold?
Now the baby is here, I find myself feeling the same kind of wonder that he has so many little ways that only we know about. If he wasn’t with us, how would ‘they’ know that he likes to have Rab-Rab to get to sleep and he can only have soya or lactose free milk? How would they know that he prefers potato cakes straight from the packet rather than toasted? How would they know how he likes his ears tickled or his legs stroked? How would they know his preferred version of Wind the Bobbin up and his favourite colour football? How would they know?
This is what makes them mine. The small things, the important things. The things that make them them. Mine.
May peace one day be with Madeleine’s parents. May they one day find some answers, if not their daughter.