The other night I was tucking 11-year-old Niamh into bed where I found her curled up with my laptop. I’m reading your short stories she said. I like them.
Earlier in the evening I had opened a file containing 5 linked stories about runners in a running group that I had written about two years ago. I’d set them aside at the time, unable to look at them anymore. I was considering going back to edit them with fresh eyes, and so I had left them open on my laptop.
Were they age-appropriate I wondered aloud?
Well, “Martha” wasn’t, she told me. But I really liked the second one. It was sweet.
It’s strangely flattering to have your child compliment you on something you wrote.
I raced through the stories in my mind, and then later on read them all the way through. These quotes were some that she may have flagged as inappropriate.
“It will be all right. You’re a strong girl and you are going to run this marathon and then you are going to kick his ass.
“Damn it,” Tina thought as the tears formed. “Damn it damn it damn it.”
What the hell was I thinking, Martha asked herself as she got off the bus into the cold downtown air. They’re gonna be a bunch of goddamn snobs in their fancy Lululemon clothes…. I should turn around and go home. I can go for a run from there and forget this f***ing running club.
I was back a few times, in and out of rehab, but Jesus I wasn’t there for him. I’ve only gotten my s**t together in the couple of years.
Kyle is a total ass who didn’t treat her nicely and was always late picking her up, or not showing up entirely.
Well, it could have been worse. And then it was.
The following morning Niamh was reading the newspaper and found an article about a horrific court case that just closed in Ottawa. Having already read the paper before she was awake, I had tried to bury the article at the bottom of the pile of papers because I know that she flips through the newspaper every day. I was leaving to go to work when I saw that she was reading the exact article I was hoping she wouldn’t see. I couldn’t tell her to stop reading it because I knew if I made a big issue of it then she would be inclined to hide what she reads. I didn’t have time to stop to talk about it right then either, so I chose to leave her be and follow up with her later.
I had better do that soon.