It’s dinner time.
I try to coax her into the kitchen.
She takes a few steps, then bounces off an invisible wall.
Have you ever seen a firefighter repelled by overwhelming heat? It may be invisible; but it’s impenetrable.
She reels backward into the office.
I offer her my hand again. I promise to show her that the cooking is all done. That it’s OK to walk into the kitchen now. I tell her that we will look at the stove together before we walk all the way in.
“There’s nothing on the stove, baby,” I say. “I promise.”
She looks leery.
“No pan?” She asks.
“No pan,” I say again, “I promise. Let’s go look together. I’ll be right here with you.”
Her body is rigid. She’s not moving.
“No pots?” she asks.
“No pots,” I say.
“There won’t be any noises,” she says.
“No baby, no noises,” I promise. “Let’s go see.”
Together, we take a tiny step forward. I’m hopeful.
She drops my hand and bolts in the other direction. She runs in a tight circle – into the hallway, around the corner, into the living room. and back through the office door. She is covering her ears with her hands. She’s no longer talking, but yelling.
“NO NOISES! THERE WON’T BE ANY NOISES!’
God damn it.
Academic challenges? Bring ’em on, Bucko. Difficulty with diet? Self care? Social Pragmatics? Transitions? We’ll figure em out. Every one of them.
I can’t ‘fix’ this.
I can’t make it OK.
I want to scream with her.
I want to know why.
Why my girl.
Why anyone’s girl – anyone’s child needs to hurt like this.
No, this isn’t an option. Not now.
I tell her again. “The cooking is all done, Brooke. It’s time to eat now. It’s OK. No noises. I promise.”
A broken record.
We’re stuck in a loop.
I offer to pick her up, to carry her in. “I’ve got you,” I say. “You’re safe,” I tell her.
It’s hollow. I can tell her until I’m blue in the face that she is safe – I can try my damndest to SHOW her – to PROVE to her – that she is safe, but if I can’t make her FEEL safe, it’s all for naught.
That difference is monumental once adrenaline has drowned reason.
She comes toward me ever so slightly, then stops again.
Eventually I will coax her past the stove.
We will make it – together – to the table.
We will both feel like we’ve climbed a mountain.
Later, I will sit down at the laptop, open it to Diary’s Facebook page, and write.
Please God show me how to take away my baby’s fear. We can get through anything – we can, but damn, it’s the %@&#ing fear that hurts the most.
And I will close my eyes.