Writing For The Moment

It’s Okay if You Hate Me

He sat on the floor, his back against the dark wood dresser in his bedroom. His legs drawn up to his chest, his eyes cast down, not that he could see me anyway. He had responded to my voice.

 

“Daddy, what did you do?”

 

“Oh Kristi, it’s terrible, just terrible.”

 

“What daddy, come on, it will be okay. It’s always okay.” I stepped into my parents bedroom and then stopped.

 

The air was still as the room grew dark. Day was ending, the sun going down. The bedside lamp remained off. My sister had once again been reading to our father in the afternoon. The noise of my playing and mom cooking in the kitchen the reason they had went to his bedroom. Dad needed it to be quiet when she read to him. He was studying for a college course. His limited eyesight made the reading assignments drone on. Having my sister read to him made it go much faster. I hated how it took away our play, my sister and I loved to play together.

 

“Not this time, bug.” My father hiccuped as tears rolled down his cheeks.

 

“It’s okay if you hate me. It’s okay if you never forgive me.” He pulled his knees tighter to his chest.

 

“Oh daddy, of course I forgive you! I could never hate you!” I rushed to him, knelt down and wrapped my seven year old arms around his neck.

 

Warm tears dropped onto my neck as his body quivered with each breath. I hugged him tight promising I would not let go.

 

He hiccuped again, his arms not leaving his knees. I hugged him. He didn’t hug me.

 

“I don’t hate you daddy. I promise, I won’t hate you.”

 

“Kristi, I’d like you to go in your room for a while. The police officers need to speak to your father.” My mom had come in and flipped on the light.

 

I gave my father one more squeeze and got up to leave. My mother tossled my hair as I passed by. I looked up at her face, the corners of her mouth turned down, her lips stretched tight. The wrinkles on her forehead creased deep. She looked tired. Very tired.

 

Before I crossed the hallway to my room I peeked in my sister’s open doorway. Prone on her bed, face planted in her pillow, her sobs muffled.

 

“Lisa?”

 

“Lisa, are you okay?”

 

“Go away.”

 

“Sis, I’m here. No matter what it is, it’s going to be okay. Come on, tell me what’s wrong.”

 

“I can’t. You wouldn’t understand.” Between a plugged and runny nose and the pillow it was hard to make out her words.

 

“What did you say? I can’t hear you?”

 

“I said go away, you wouldn’t understand. You’re too little.” She lifted her head long enough to cut into my heart with her words.

 

“I’m not too little! I can listen. You just need to talk to me!” I stomped out of my sister’s bedroom and went into my own. One of the few times I was thankful I no longer shared a room with her.

 

My doll was on my bed. I grabbed her and a brush and began tugging it through tangled hair. I heard voices and foot steps coming down the hallway. Two officers in blue uniforms walked past my door. My mom passed by and pulled my door closed. I could hear them talking, deep voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

 

“What do you think the officers want, Molly?” I asked my doll as I continued brushing her golden hair. Strands of white, yellow and gold, with a hint of red mixed in her lovely hair.

 

“Do you think my daddy did something so bad the police men came? I don’t know what he did. Maybe Lisa did something bad, she sure is crying a lot.”

 

I stopped brushing, the brush once again stuck in my doll’s hair. Patiently, I pulled each strand out at a time, trying not to pull them out of her head altogether.

 

Rolling closet doors creaked breaking the silence. I strained to hear. Slipping off my bed, I tip-toed to the door. The adults spoke in hushed whispers. I pressed my ear against the door.

 

“Just wear what you have on…….” it was a man’s voice, I didn’t recognize.

 

“Mr. Espe, it’s time to go. Mrs. Espe, you can follow us to the station or come down in the morning. Here is my card, you can call me direct for information.” Another deep voice. I waited for my mom to speak.

 

I pressed my face harder against the worn door, my cheek burning from rubbing the wood. Shuffling sounds, sniffling, whomever was outside my door was crying. Feet stepped past and someone bumped into my door from the hallway.

 

“Lisa, Please go down the street to your grandma’s and tell Bill what is going on. He needs to come home, now.” My mother’s voice quivered as she spoke.

 

Why did my sister have to go get our brother? Why didn’t Bob, our oldest brother go? Lisa was so sad. I should go with her. But mom told me to go to my room. She didn’t say I could come out yet. I wish I knew what was going on out there.

 

The hallway grew silent. I sat down on the floor, my back against the bedroom door. I held my dolly tight against me.

 

“Molly, why do think daddy said it was okay if I hate him?”

 

(Excerpt from: ‘That is NOT Okay!”)

 

Copyright © 2018 by Kristina Lyn Reddy

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below.

 

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Family and Pets

I Don’t Want to Be Like Him

A hard reality I have had to face, I am more like my father than I would like to be. Many times I have told myself in one of the many conversations I have had with myself over the years, I will not be like my father. I will parent differently. I will show compassion, unconditional love, patience, forgiveness, empathy, tenderness in the most difficult of moments, and so on. And while I have parented in a very different way than my father, I have at times been just like him. So much so, that as I stood there looking into my child’s eyes consumed with rage I have seen myself, the little girl I once was, looking back at me.

It happened today. My son stood there looking back at me, his nostrils flaring open and then closed as he sucked in the oxygen around him. I was fuming, standing there towering over him, daring him to not listen to me. His eyes locked with mine. Click. I saw myself looking back at me, and yet I knew it was my son. In that moment I knew exactly how he was feeling. Part of me, the part enveloped in anger, the part that felt all-powerful, wanted to keep going. It wanted to turn up the faucet of over flowing verbal sewage that was blasting down on his head. The other part of me, the little girl who knew what this felt like, the part that knew he had done nothing wrong, nothing more than any child might do, and knew that this struggle was over control and power. That part of me inhaled the oxygen that would flood my brain with common sense, compassion, patience, and clear the stupidity that was clouding my judgment.

Our eyes still locked, I exhaled. My body moved towards my son as my arms wrapped around him and drew him in for a hug. Tenderness from my body spread to his and he melted against me. His arms encircled my body as his head rest on my chest. We two became one. I held him there for many moments allowing what had transpired to be healed and washed away.

“I love you buddy. I’m sorry I was angry. It’s really no big deal, you just need to go back outside and ask your friend nicely not to do to you what you did to him. How would you feel if he had thrown show at your head? Go out there and talk to him. I’ll watch and if it doesn’t go well, I’ll come out and help you. I think you can take care of it.”

“Love you too, mom. I’ll go try.”

His hands released me as I gave him one more squeeze. I watched as he headed back outside. The door closed behind him. Cautiously he walked towards his friend, “Hey, I’m sorry I hit you on the head with that snow. I didn’t mean to. Are you okay?”

“It’s okay and yeah, I’m fine.”

“You want to play lazer tag instead?”

“Yeah, let’s go!”

Off they went, problem solved, friendship reunited.

I turned back to what I was working on breathing a sigh of relief. For a few moments I had been him, just like him. Zero to 100 on the anger scale, with no room for compassion. This time, like others in the past, something came in and took over bringing me back to reality. As much as I don’t want to be like him, I need to remember him and how I was when he was like that to me, to help me be the person I wished he had been. One day, one moment at a time.