Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Power of Perception

I don't know when Margot became so mature in her perceptions, but this is clearly one of her strengths/gifts.

We spent some time in the mall this afternoon, staying out of the soupy heat that enveloped the Philadelphia metro region today. We paused for a brief lunch in the food court; Margot requested a hamburger (an unusual request for her) and I ate a veggie burger from Burger King.

We sat at a table next to a girl who was probably about eight or nine years old. She was writing in an activity workbook - filling in crosswords, doing word finds, etc. When we first sat down, I thought perhaps her mom or dad was picking up lunch from one of the fast food joints in the food court while she held the table. After a few minutes, I realized no one had come to join her. Almost simultaneously, I noted the resemblance between the girl and a woman who stood about 15 feet away, handing out tiny samples of 'bourbon chicken.' must be her mother, I thought. Poor kid, I thought. I wondered if she had to spend every day in the mall food court or if her babysitter had just fallen through today.

All of these thoughts were in my head. I did not speak a word about it (it was just me and Margot, after all).

Margot chewed on her plain hamburger, lost in thought. For her, this was also unusual. Normally she keeps up a steady stream of observations of all that is happening around her.

I heard the quietest of songs coming from the girl while she worked in her workbook. Margot heard it too; then she looked at me.

"That girl is singing, Mommy," said Margot, quietly. The girl was only about two feet away from her.

"Yes, she's singing a little song," I agreed.

"That girl is lonely, Mommy," Margot concluded.

And for some reason, this just about broke my heart. Not only had Margot noticed the girl was alone, without a playmate, mom, or dad, but she sensed her sadness. Margot knows what loneliness is. When did she learn this? How did she learn this? How did she learn to sense this in a young girl who never looked at her, but only continued to write in her activity book?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Explanation for My Silence

So it's been a week since I last posted, and a number of things have changed. For starters, Min and I are back in Philadelphia for a few weeks. I hadn't planned on this; it just kind of happened. But what's done is done.

The explanation: I freaked out. Uncharacteristic of me, I know, but it happened nonetheless. As someone who loves an international thrill, the proximity of the unexploded car bombs in central London to our flat (about a 10-15 minute walk) shouldn't have made me bat an eye. And they didn't at first (that Friday was a beautiful day in London with lots of sunshine and breezes; all I could think about was enjoying the weather). But then when the car crashed into the Glasgow airport, I lost it. I thought we were under attack. And I was possessed by a never-before-experienced urge to protect my baby. Also, I feared we could never comfortably ride the Tube or a bus. What would we do - sit around the dark flat for the next seven weeks?

So I called US Air and changed mine and Margot's tickets to fly home to Philadelphia a few days ago.

I readily admit that the following morning I felt more than a little silly. The old (read = levelheaded) me returned. I'm certain that I completely overreacted. And now Margot and I are biding some time here in steamy Philadelphia, while Brodie is logging long hours at the office alone in London. But what's done is done. (It's a small consolation that at least I am getting tan again with Philadelphia's summer sun as opposed to England's cloudy mist.)

We'll head back to London at the end of the month after we finish moving across town. So, for now, our anecdotes will once again be domestic. Oh, and I left Brodie the camera, so there will be no photos. But that just means I have to do a better job describing Min's adventures, since there will be no visual aids.