4 years old going on 30
Until my brother was born, my mom, dad and I were a team. We lived in a small condo and my dad worked both day and night shifts as a laborer. We all felt it was important for my mom to stay home with me, no matter how hard it was financially. My mom and I were inseparable best friends. We went for long drives, with the windows down listening to music, planted vegetables and flowers in the garden and baked things like cookies and breads. In the winter, she would tie a rope to a sled, wrap it around her waist and pull me behind her while she cross-country skied around the neighborhood, checking to see if any of the old people needed anything. On the weekends, my parents would have their friends over filling our house with food, cocktails and music. I felt very loved, very special and very safe. Our life was perfect and then my mom got pregnant.
My parents weren’t going to find out the sex but it was never a question for me, I knew there was no way it could be a girl. I only submitted names for boys to my parents and Santa Clause was at the top of my list. Actually, it was the only name on my list. I wasn’t sure if that meant he’d be a baby old man or what but that was a minor detail compared to the fact I would be able to get presents every day of my life. If I was going to have to share my mother’s time, love and attention than I better be getting something amazing out of this.
My mom’s stomach got bigger and bigger and I began to learn how isolating thinking could be. I never realized the inside of my head could talk and no one could hear it but me. Not to mention, my parents weren’t taking the Santa Clause name seriously enough for my liking. In fact, I suspected they were laughing at it. One night before bed my parents sent me into the bathroom to brush my teeth. They called to me and after I didn’t answer they came into the bathroom where they found me, in a haze and cleaning. There were suds on the vanity, tub, walls, mirror, and floor. I was standing on a stool with a wet and soapy washcloth scrubbing the walls. After saying my name three times I finally snapped out of it and looked at them.
“Amelia, what are you doing?”
I gasped, looking around, as if seeing it for the first time “I must have lost my mind.”
Again, they laughed. Who were these people, I thought they knew me. My supposed best friend had always been one step ahead me. She knew I was hungry before I knew I was hungry, knew I needed a nap even when I didn’t think I did and they always knew when I needed a snuggle so why were they acting so clueless. Well, little did I know that it was that little anxiety seed that was beginning to sprout. My 4-year-old self was about to experience change for the first time. Before then I never knew that life altered, things don’t stay the same and most importantly you can’t control it.
One early hot and humid summer morning my parents woke me up, carried me to the car and drove me to my godparents’ house, where they dropped me off. A drop off? This was new and it was hurtful. The baby was coming and apparently I wasn’t allowed to be a part of it. I had never not been included in something, we were a team. I was not happy about any of this. My godfather was my Dad’s oldest and closest friend. They had known each other since they were five, had grown up across the street from each other and he was family, without the blood. I climbed into my Uncle Bill and Aunt Barb’s warm, cozy bed and woke up a few hours later to two of my favorite “cousins”, Rachael and Ryan. Immediately, I was over the fact that my parents had dropped me off in fact, I liked the freedom. If they weren’t there, they couldn’t say “no” and I knew Uncle Bill and Aunt Barb always kept soda in their fridge and would let me drink it later.
We ate our cereal, got dressed and went outside to play. My cousin Rachael was the oldest which obviously meant she was the coolest. When I was a baby I had been her human doll and now that I was getting bigger I was becoming more of a sidekick, a ranking I held with pride. Ryan was older than me but younger than Rachael plus since he was a boy, I felt I was his equal and even sometimes, a little better than him.
Rachael had just learned how to ride double on a bike and wanted to teach me how to do it. I looked at her ten-speed that was bigger than me with a little bit of nervousness but without hesitation I did exactly what she said. She was really mature and knew everything there was to know about everything.
“Mia, you sit on the seat.” She had to lift me up since my legs couldn’t reach. I sat on the wobbly, kick standing bike while she got ready to take off. I held on to her waist as she started to peddle and I stretched my legs out from either side, just as she had instructed. We were doing it, on the first try! Rachael didn’t skip a beat as we rode around the block, then two blocks, then the whole neighborhood. I waved at the neighbors and Rachael’s friends. However, without realizing it, my legs were getting tired and began falling a bit until before I knew it I felt my leg being pulled, scraped and twisted. We went down hard but together. I was so confused and shocked since it had happened so fast, so I didn’t even cry. My foot had gotten tangled within the spokes of the bike, a rooky mistake on my end. Within minutes I was rushed to the emergency room where they scrubbed my raw foot. The skin covering my anklebone was gone, shredded from the spokes, exposing the bone and blood around the area. It was excruciating and horrible but the one thing that kept me together: I knew that my mom was somewhere near me, in that same hospital. I kept my eyes peeled from the moment they carried me into the ER and told every nurse and doctor I came across that Heidi Kanan was my mom. “Do you know her? She’s having a baby that might have the name Santa Claus who is going to be our new baby.”
After scrubbing my raw bone, they wrapped me up, put me in a wheelchair that elevated my leg and took me to see my family. As I was wheeled into the room I felt it. The change. It was the most amazing thing and one that could have never been anticipated. This thing that I had feared so much was finally here and all I felt was excitement that was even better than Christmas. There was someone new, who was mine. I couldn’t talk or see anyone but him, the little baby. Things were going to be different; they were going to be better. I was going to be able to have someone else to sit with me in the backseat, someone to be on my side when I didn’t want to do something my parents wanted me to do and someone to tell secrets to. I didn’t need my mom to be my best friend anymore. This little baby was going to be my best friend, my student and my sidekick. They didn’t name him Santa but as soon they let me hold him I forgave them. He was so much better than presents, every day. I didn’t need anything except him. Charles Jonas. C.J.. As I sat holding him in my wheelchair, with my foot elevated and all bandaged up, I whispered to him, “Don’t worry, as soon as I can, I’m going to learn how to ride a bike so I can teach you how to ride double. You’re going to love it!” Change wasn’t bad at all, in fact, it was the best thing in the world.