This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.
25th April, 2020 Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England
Amy, Lucas and I walking to the park. It’s been 2 weeks since we started taking care of her.
Lucas and I were supposed to meet up in Spain. But covid happened, and so he decided to leave Prague and meet me in England instead.
We were a little worried about finding a workaway at first and then this lady replied us and accepted to let us work with her for a month. The agreement was that she would be going to Poland after, and we would be able to stay in her house for free for another month after, we could housesit for her.
The deal was that we worked for 30 hours a week, instead of 25 hours a week, since she was going to let us stay an extra month for free. We agreed. On top of free accommodation, she would provide us with one meal a day.
It was my first workaway job, and I had no expectations. I wanted to follow Lucas’s lead, since this would be his 3rd.
We get to the park where the hedges first start, and Amy looks at me in excitement.
“Are you ready Amy??” I ask her.
She squeals in joy, “Yesss!!!!”
Lucas holds onto her left arm while I hold on to her right. Together, we count to 3 and swing Amy back and forth.
“You’re now entering fairy land!!! You’re transforming into a fairy now!” Lucas said.
Amy squeals and screams in delight. When we place her down, she runs around the park with her arms out, flapping her imaginary wings. I look at her run and join in the fun. My dad always joined in whenever we played imaginary games. He told me he never understood why parents would bring their kids to the playground and let their children play while they sat on a bench using their phones.
Children don’t care about the playground. They want us to play with them. They want company. They want you to involve them in your world, because you are their whole world.
Amy, Lucas and I run and run and run until Amy gets tired. We lay a picnic mat down underneath a big tree and give her some water. She gets to choose her snacks. Every day, her mother makes us pack different types of snacks for her. Peeled apple slices, a packet of juice, a thermostat of potatoes with WAAAAY too much butter, and some biscuits.
When Amy is with us, she’s an absolute doll. Everyday, we spend hours with her and bring her out for walks.
“Leave for at least 4 hours please and don’t come back. I need my rest.” Her mother would say.
Amy is the child of a Polish woman with her ex boyfriend that she didn’t want to marry. He wanted to marry her and take care of Amy together, but she refused. She chose to raise Amy herself. It was admirable of her to do that.
Later on, we would find out that when Amy was just 2, her mother sent her away back to Poland to be with her grandparents. Her mother needed to work and so she let her parents look after Amy. Because Amy spent almost a year in Poland, she spoke fluent Polish as well as English.
For a whole month, we were Amy’s best companions. She was kind, smart, curious and never threw a tantrum whenever she was out with us. She would sometimes lash out when she gets tired. But if we spoke to her with reason, she would listen and be good.
At home however, Amy was a completely different girl.
Every single time she couldn’t get something, she would yell and scream at her mother. Every time Amy was rude to her mother, her mother would say “I’m sorry” to her.
If Amy made a fuss and started crying, her mother would pull her in and hold her close, rocking her up and down until she stopped crying. Her mother would keep apologizing to her, keep rewarding her for making a fuss.
Sometimes, when we are off duty, we would see that Amy is left alone to watch videos on her own, sometimes for hours, while her mother goes out for walks or to do her own things.
My point is – Amy’s mother wasn’t doing her justice. She gave her so much affection but never her time.
Sometimes if Amy’s tantrums get too big and she’s unable to control her anger, her mother would then suddenly yell at her very loudly, her own anger lashing at her own daughter.
It made me wonder, if Gideon was once like that as a child.
It made me fear for the person Amy would grow up to become.
Every single time I got to spend with Amy, I told her all the affirmations I wanted to tell myself too.
“Amy repeat after me” – “I’m beautiful.”
I’m booootiful” she would say, in a cheeky little voice.
“I’mmmmma BUTTERFLY!!!” she didn’t know why we had to do this exercise.
“I’m a SMART butterfly.” I tried to go with her words instead.
“I’m a smart butterfly.” She repeated after me.
“I’m kind.” I told her, as I told myself.
“I’m loved.” I think about all of my family and my friends back home, and with this statement, I felt it. I felt all of their love for me.
Amy doesn’t want to say it. Hear cheerful disposition suddenly becomes very withdrawn.
“I don’t feel that I’m loved. But I love my mummy alot.”
My heart sank. That child has so much repressed anger inside of her even though she also has so much creativity, zest and life!
Before we can teach someone else how to love, before we can love someone else, how do we first love ourselves?