The Tiger Who Went to School

gab-1140x642.jpg

Some days have nothing to do with cancer and everything to do with being a Mum. It was World Book Day last week and kids all over the country dressed up as a character from one of their favourite books. Sounds simple, but no.

Gabriella’s favourite book is called Press Here, an activity book that involves pressing a dot on the page and it changes colour on the next page. Then you press it three times and it becomes three dots. Or you shake the book and all the dots get scattered around. You get the idea. It was the first book I ever got my leaping-legged-jumping-bean- perpetually-in-motion daughter to sit through from cover to cover without needing to ride her bike round the kitchen table after only three pages. Well, why sit when you can run, dance, climb, jump or peddle?

Problem is there are no characters in the story except the one who presses the dots. So what’s a mum to do? Send her as a dot? It took 48 hours of pulling books off shelves, and convincing her how much she liked them that one time when her legs ran out of steam, to finally settle on The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Phew.

I can’t pretend to be even remotely competent at sewing or hand-making dress-up costumes, as some of the ubermums at school manage to do, but she was thrilled with this purchased tiger suit and skipped into her classroom waving said book at teacher, pleased as punch. Slightly awkward moment when she realised her teacher’s tiger mask represented the exact same character, but that soon subsided as kids and their parents exclaimed, “Look, it’s the tiger who came to tea” as they passed Gabriella in the corridors – which were ubermum moments for me! She even made the front page of the school newsletter. So now who’s proud as punch?

The past five months have been hard on Gabriella in many ways. One day she was the centre of my world, the next she had to share it with my tumours. Before I left for three weeks of treatment in Mexico I had never left her for more than three days. We are very close.

In recent weeks her behaviour has shown signs of distress – unusual outbursts of anger towards me, increased whining (not her style) and disproportionate grief (lasting many sobs over many days) about being rejected by her best friend at school. Her upsets are rarely about me being ill, but that’s the storm that moved into her skies and darkened her landscape. And I have watched the rain fall.

IMG_20141019_150334_resize1-300x300.jpeg

So, for a while, I needed to put all my treatments aside and make her the centre of my world again. Within days the whining and raging was replaced by giggling, playing and bountiful kisses. I am working so hard to outrun my life expectancy and be here for her longer than predicted that I sometimes forget to be here for her now.

So, for a while, I needed to put all my treatments aside and make her the centre of my world again. Within days the whining and raging was replaced by giggling, playing and bountiful kisses. I am working so hard to outrun my life expectancy and be here for her longer than predicted that I sometimes forget to be here for her now.

So, for a while, I needed to put all my treatments aside and make her the centre of my world again. Within days the whining and raging was replaced by giggling, playing and bountiful kisses. I am working so hard to outrun my life expectancy and be here for her longer than predicted that I sometimes forget to be here for her now.

There is no tomorrow for Gabriella. She lives where I want to live – in this moment, this game, this drawing, this cuddle, this dive under water, this kick of the ball, this climb of the highest frame, this opportunity to beat up the day and leave it dazed in the corner before bedtime (which is what she invariably achieves). She exists in the present, as most children do until chronology asserts itself over the eternal here-and-now. Which is where happiness lives.

It can take a cancer diagnosis to get back there. Or a nearly-five year old whose eyes light up when Mummy stops blogging and taking supplements and sits on the floor to play skittles, dinosaur puzzles or a simple game of snap.



Treatmentsbgsd studio