I pulled up outside the school the news was on and smarmy djs shocked, just reporting over and over repeating what they heard as they heard it in disbelief.
I was flustered with my toddlers in the back of the car and turned it off I didn’t register, my mind was on my baby’s birthday tomorrow what to buy and what to do the last minute bits with three kids in tow after rushing from work. I collected my son some were talking about stuff but most of us mums had rushed from work some to go back after dropping to an adoring nan and work more hours so the bills get paid or doing tea, stories, baths, reading books tucked up in bed and then turn on the computer to log in to work again. Scoop up kids and scoop up toddlers and scoop up babies and scatter our families to where they need to fit whilst we work to pay the bills and make ends meet. We had no time for news. So we went on and packed in the car, the radio still off whilst I heard about the news of the day.Reception is a very important place and the headline news in our car on 11 Sept 2001 was that some kids weren’t allowed the time on the wheeled toys at break because they weren’t being good listeners.
I had on my mind my golden haired girl’s second birthday excited for the trampoline she would unwrap tomorrow, let her loose on some of the energy that always built up to make her like a little whirlwind. She had been a whirlwind in the womb, kick kick spin. She was overdue and I had to go and have a heart trace. It should have taken 15 minutes it took over three hours because they couldn’t get 15 minutes worth of heart trace, not because they couldn’t get a heartbeat but because they couldn’t pin down a heart beat she moved so much inside, my sister drove me and we waited and waited. I apologised as much because all the magazines in the waiting room were fishing or sailing ones none of which were her choice of read, she forgave me and Whitney Houston’s My Love is Your Love played on her car radio and I already knew that whilst I studied and worked, as I carried her that she was with me they all were and when she was born she stayed awake so much outside. I walked the floors at night just her and me, I sang songs and she was soothed, My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean (sing my bonny!! She would cry to me when she could talk) You Are My Sunshine (like my Mum sang to us) the Irish Lullaby (like my gran sang to my Dad) Goodnight Sweetheart (because I love Dean Martin) and so many more. If I had to leave her she would cry, I had to go back and press her cheek against mine. No one else would do. As years went on and the school office became familiar to me, the Head of Year had me on speed dial, the slammed doors the thrown things and walking off, being the biggest enemy in the world, the near tragedies that we experience as parents, with that pulling her back from brought her to my arms again just like the baby she was and will always be.
On 11 September 2001 I took them to the shops after school, they badgered for a happy meal and I refused the junk food and started to walk back to the car park buggy laden with happy shopping and tired children, exhausted; noticing a crowd around the TV shop in the days they still had tv’s in the shop windows, I stopped to see why people standing speechless watching over and over, a plane fly into a tower, over and over and silent disbelief in retail outlets. I turned back to get the happy meal because sometimes we need to spend £2.99 on happiness. We buy stuff don’t we, when we can’t control stuff?
The next day, on her second birthday my golden haired baby thrilled, jumped up and down up and down holding on to the rail of the trampoline, her vest poppers undone and flapping, laughing like bubbles floating in the air and filling the room, her chubby arms holding tight to the trampoline safe with a rail, next to the big fire guard to keep them safe away from burning and sometimes handy for drying school uniform bits on. Keep them safe, keep them safe that is all we ever try and on the news over and over the sombre tones and the film, over and over, of a plane crashing,over and over, answerphone messages of people saying their last goodbyes, their last I love you’s because they knew they were dying.
The world was never the same again but my baby grew up, my golden haired baby and tonight she becomes an adult. Tonight I wish to hold the baby like I always do with all of them, but now every single baby I have is an adult; keep them safe, kept them safe to here and now I fear the world is mad and they are going into it………