Mommy does not smile very much.
On Saturdays, mommy lets me watch cartoons. I look at Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry and another one that I don’t like that much. I still watch it because I like seeing the pictures move around on the screen. And also because I want to watch TV for longer, and mommy turns off the TV when she thinks I get bored.
In those cartoons, everyone smiles big, cheesy smiles. They are the type of smile I make when mommy lets me have cake or ice cream after dinner, or when daddy comes home and gives me candy. They are the smiles daddy makes when I say “happy father’s day” and give him a card I made all by myself with my favourite red crayon. They are the type of smiles grandma and grandpa make when I go to their house and hug them.
Mommy doesn’t make those smiles. In the mornings, mommy combs my hair while I sit on her lap, swinging my legs and counting to one-hundred.
Fifty-three, fifty-four, fifty-five... sixty?
And mommy makes a funny face and tells me it’s actually fifty-six, not sixty; of course I knew that. Then I count some more and try very hard not to make another mistake. I think the face mommy makes is supposed to be a smile, only it does not look very smiley.
When daddy smiles, his eyes and mouth make little lines on his face. He makes a hahaha sound that is deep and loud and makes me feel warm and good inside. When makes her supposed-to-be-smiley face, her eyes are circles of black and grey. There are no little lines or hahaha ’s or anything that makes me feel warm and good. Her mouth is almost the right shape but her eyes are empty.
Her eyes make me think of my teddy bear’s eyes. They are grey too, like hers. Except that on teddy, it looks cute and on mommy; it looks scary, like how I think a dead person might look. Empty eyes and still face. Or if someone wanted to make a dead person look happy and pushed their mouth up but couldn’t do anything about their eyes. I get very scared thinking about it.
I get scared. She scares me.
Daddy says that a good girl is a helpful girl. I want to be a good girl.
Daddy comes in with the mail one morning while I am sitting on mommy and counting. I jump off of her lap and try to pull her up, but she does not move. I smile when daddy comes in and I run into his arms and he calls me sunshine. Mommy does not smile. She does not get up. I think she is mad at daddy. I wonder why.
We draw together, mommy, daddy and I. I make a red dog and a red cat and a purple house and green grass because grass is green. Mommy gives me the brown crayon but I am not done with the grass yet, can’t she see? Then, I make some pink flowers and some blue clouds and finally a brown house.
Mommy and daddy talk about important adult stuff and I hum the Tom and Jerry opening song quietly so I don’t interrupt them. I sit on daddy’s lap; I like mommy’s better because she is warm and smells good. Daddy smells very strong and I don’t like it much, but I don’t tell him. Mommy smells like flowers.
Then, daddy holds mommy’s hand, and I stop humming. I listen instead, because hand-holding means important stuff like skating. Maybe mommy will come skating after holding hands and talking.
"I'd like you to be there."
"I'm sorry, Harge, I have plans."
A good girl is a helpful girl. I want to be a helpful girl. “Mommy and Aunt Abby are exchanging presents,” I say.
Daddy smiles and turns my face to him. “You've been seeing a lot of Aunt Abby lately, sunshine? With mommy?"
“Mhm,” I say and draw some more. I like Aunt Abby; she gives me lots of presents and candies and she says that she will buy me a car when I am old enough (I want the same car as daddy’s, but red!). She also makes mommy’s eyes less sad-looking. Mommy smiles more when Aunt Abby is here, not those weird smiles, but real smiles.
"I'll - try and rearrange with Abby."
Daddy says “thank you” and smiles at me, so I think I was a helpful girl. I was a good girl. I am a good girl.
Mommy brings home a humongous Christmas tree and we decorate it with pretty papers and peppermint twists and sparkly lights. I want to put the star on top but mommy says I’ll fall, so she puts it on. I tell her I think this is the most beautiful tree in the whole wide world. She smiles a real smile at me. I think Christmas does this to people; it makes them happy.
Mommy lets me have cookies before bed. I steal a candy cane and hide it in my pocket as mommy picks me up. I think I will eat it in my room.
I don’t brush my teeth and I have my candy instead; it makes me feel like an adult. Adults can have candy whenever they want. When I am an adult, I will have a room full of candy to eat whenever I want. I go to sleep, my tummy full of cookies and peppermints and milk.
Daddy wakes me up and tells me to get dressed because we are going to grandma and grandpa’s house. I did not know this was the plan. Adults also don’t have to tell their children their plans. When I am an adult, I will tell my children things before doing it so they don’t get scared when they get woken up at night.
Daddy pulls my hand and my feet move speedy quick to keep up. I go past mommy and the tree. I ask daddy if there will be a tree at grandma and grandpa’s. He ignores me. I think it is very rude to ignore people.
Mommy hugs and kisses me bye-bye and I draw on the foggy windows. I wipe it because daddy hates having fingerprints everywhere. I see daddy grab mommy and then mommy pushes daddy, and he slips and falls and gets up (I gasp). I think mommy is being difficult, like how I can be when I don’t want to do my ABC’s. When daddy comes back, steaming mad, I sit in the back like I saw nothing.
I don’t see mommy for a long time and daddy tells me she is going on a trip. I ask him if we can go on a trip too. He ignores me; I think I’m getting ignored a lot at grandma and grandpa’s house. I want to be with mommy on her trip; maybe we can see Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. Then, we can eat ice-cream for every meal and make snowmen and go skating together, just her and me. She won’t ignore me, I know it.
Mommy and I talk on the phone sometimes. I thank her for the train set and I tell her I don’t like grandma and grandpa’s house. I tell her it is brown and ugly and smells old. She laughs and agrees with me.
Maybe trips make people happier. I am happy that mommy is happy.
I call mommy again but this time; she does not sound very happy. I tell her about my baby goat to make her laugh again. She does not. I don’t think the trip made her very happy.
Daddy says I can’t see mommy anymore because she is “sick” and “needs help”. I tell him I can help make her better. Grandma and grandpa call her a bad person and I say that she is not. They smile at me like I don’t know a thing; I know lots and lots of things. I try to call her but I don’t know the number and daddy takes the phone and I scream and hit and kick him while he picks me up because I want to talk to mommy. He puts me in my stupid, stinky room and I cry.
Mommy says I shouldn’t say “hate” but she is not here, so I will. I hate this yucky, stinky house and my big, brown room that smells like an old man. I hate my new toys and my new teddy bear that has brown eyes and not grey eyes like mommy’s. I hate being told to sit on grandma’s lap because she is hard and boney and does not smell like flowers. I hate sleeping because there is no mommy to go to and hug if I have scary dreams. I want my old room and my old toys and my mommy and I want everything to go back to normal.