My nostalgia took me all the way back to nursery today. It only gave me a hint of what it was once like. I think I mostly enjoyed it. I think.
The enduring memory of you dropping me off each morning; me playing on the climbing frame next to the office, while you talked to the woman in charge. The moment each day when it was time for you to leave, when I cried and clung on for dear life; it is a warm memory Mum. It doesn’t carry a sense that you were abandoning me.
Maybe that is because I have since gone through the same with my own children. It’s a right of passage for both parent and child I guess. Each has their role to play, and each knows it is just a game. I think.
Unfortunately, my clearest remembrances are a little darker, bleak at best on reflection. One memory others will have shared in, the teachers, and no doubt will endure as some comic tale told by them with grins and yucky-smiling-disgust. For me a memory of embarrassment. The other is solely in my head, an observation of my self-awareness even from such a young age. This memory sums up my character, what has always been me; then, now, forever. Fancy, knowing who you are at such a young age. That character has near destroyed me on numerous occasion. I think.
Embarrassment first though Mum. I don’t know if you were ever told. I’m sure you must have been. Was it out of your own embarrassment that you never mentioned it to me? Or were you saving me from myself?
I see them clearly, the walls of the cubicle. The door is locked. I’m sat down and…how do you write this…pooing, defecating, shitting? Looks so horrible written! But was doing all three, clearly. I was also doing all three sides of the cubicle in my own design; poo smeared on plastic surface using cheap unpourus toilet paper.
Not sure why I had done it in the first place, I got out of there as fast as I could, managing not to be seen. After that there is only white space for a while. Until the line up.
I’m not sure if this is memory or perception. Either way it happened, to degree. A full line of children all there in front of me. Teachers in conflab. I could over hear them; plotting solution to the mystery. I knew the answer. Theirs was to inspect each and everyone of us by pulling our pants down to see if we had shit all over our pants and backsides. I actually don’t remember that feeling of whether I had or not – which is strange. But it happened. All too real.
I also don’t remember anything after that part. The actual outcome. Just the fear of the line. Ominous. I think.
But what really grips the memory is the other incident. The one that is mine and mine only. The self-awareness. That damned conciousness that should not have existed in one so young.
I see children playing today when we go to parties at friends house. Its sweet and innocent and free and I’m jealous of it. They run around without care, absorbed only in their world. At nursery it was the same for the class I was in. That is apart from one time, thee time.
It was playtime. Sunny. We were all out running around in the retangular play area. Everybody was darting around it seemed, like many little bees, all busying themselves. I was running around with Owen. He was Batman and I was Robin. It was easier that way. He clearly knew what he was doing. I knew who Batman was, but I didn’t know how to be him; default, it was easier for me to be Robin.
And this was fine. All I had to do was run around behind him. His right hand man, with absolutely no function what-so-ever, except to follow his path. He had no function either, no order or reason as to where or why he was running. The thing is, he had not any notion of that. I did. But that was fine too. It was all fine. That is, until they spotted me.
In a cursory, somewhat instictive turn of my head, I slowed my running and glanced around. There in the window of the office, looking on, were three of the teachers. They’d got me and they knew it. Yes, there was much activity going on in that playground, but none so interesting as the boy who didn’t know what he was doing. They saw straight through me. Into me. Mum. At that moment I was destroyed. At only 4 years old, my live was revealed. I had been uncovered as a fraud.
Why me Mum? Why did that person have to be me? That character. It has always been me Mum. And what did it leave me with? A self-awareness disproportionate to what was reasonably necessary in any single being. From that day forward I was more introvert, shy and confused that I ever wanted to be. That moment in time, a split second of realisation, left me over sensitive and paranoid about people seeing through me and into my soul, even when I knew somewhere deep inside they did not even notice me.
But then, not being noticed has always been a consequence of this character. Better that way; and worse. I think.
More than 30 years on and I remain the same. Much of a muchness.
You were always there for me though Mum. And Dad. I know you both loved me; still do. I will take that love with me to the grave. But not yet Mum. I didn’t mean that. God no, not yet.
I will write again soon, Mum.
Love, as always. Your Son.