"We had lunch at Timmies."
I looked down to the voice that was directed, quite obviously, but not rudely, towards me.
In the hilarity and confusion of the preceding moments I hadn't realized that this little person had managed to weasle his way closer to me.
On the other side of me Daughter was holding a green tinged wrap. The kind they call a spinach wrap. The kind that people actually believe counts as a serving of vegetables.
We were at an event that had tables of food and Daughter was wolfing down a very late breakfast/lunch since she had chosen to not eat before we left the house at noon. She had remarked that she was starving and I had also said that it was no wonder since she had chosen to skip breakfast.
I had just made a comment to her and the group around her that I wanted a picture of her with the green tinged wrap with another stringy bit of green limp lettuce flopping out of it. And I had said that I wanted the wrap hanging out of her nose. I felt that the effect would be marvelous when contrasted with her crisp black graduation gown and hard covered cap with the orange tassle dangling from the left side.
This comment had all of us laughing at the image of her with the green wrap dangling out of her nose as the perfect accouterment to the dangling orangle tassle - aided greatly by Daughter acting out the motion of placing said wrap close to her nose. And then this little person's voice piped up directly below me in order to to tell me, not the group, where he had had lunch.
I guess it was a big deal for him. Coming down to the big city to see his half sister graduate. The half sister that he worshipped and had since birth (the feeling being mutual). He got to take the afternoon off of school and go to lunch alone with his own mom and their shared dad since his other full blooded sister couldn't come due to a conflicting track and field competition. And the three of them had went to Timmie's for lunch. The whole day had likely taken on a magical quality for him and perhaps, as at another graduation ceremony over four years prior, this young child had felt the need to share something with me, the other mother. The one that wasn't his mother. The one that mothers his idolized sister.
The difference between this graduation for Daughter and the last is that the ensuing four years has brought a maturity to me that cannot be erased. Four years ago, at Daughter's grade eight graduation, I had a friend accompany me. I could not face it alone. By it I mean the reality of the anger and rage that XHusband projects onto me. The rage that he shared with Daughter via nastily barbed words about my failings as a mother - both in his home with his 'new' family and at family gatherings with his extended family. So at that graduation, when the same little voice approached me, I was moved to engage with Daughter's half brother by asking him some questions and conversing directly with him. An olive branch, as it were.
But this time, when the little voice offered up it's morsel all I could think was "I am not your mother little boy. I am so grateful that my child was not raised in a house of hatred. I am sorry that your parents have not allowed you and your half sister, my daughter, to have a joint relationship with me and that they have portrayed me to be something evil. Because I see that you, little boy, recognize me for what I am: The mother of someone you love dearly and because of your love for her you want to reach out to me because you know that you and I share this worship factor. We both worship Daughter and for that I am delighted. But I am not your mother and I have nothing to give you right now."
Of course, I didn't say any of this. I merely looked into the innocent eyes and said "That's nice" and continued to focus my attention on the object of my worship. Daughter was looking resplendent and glorious in her gown and cap and gobbling down a green tinged wrap while sharing an awkward moment with her two estranged parents, step mom and half brother. These moments have come few and far between in her life. Her continuing giggles attested to the inherent discomfort of the situation and she was relieved when her father mumbled something about getting on the road to return home. Their backs were swallowed up by bodies in the hectic gymnasium as they found their way back to their mini van and their small city life in Kitchener.
One of the best parts of worshipping Daughter is getting to be a voyeur on her social life and I spent the next half hour soaking up the shrieks and shrills of her gang reuniting. Daughter's high school graduation made me feel more like a grown up than I ever have. And I mean that in a very positive way.