Oh Aishah, you leave me breathing like the drowning man

Dreaming like the drowning man… I thought I was finished writing about this, but I am not.

On Sunday, I dropped Josh off at his cousin’s birthday party, dreading the drive there because he and Aishah slept over there that last Friday night on 7th September before Aishah and her mother left. I didn’t want them to go, didn’t want to be robbed of that last night with Aishah, but Megan had arranged the sleepover, not I, and both Josh and Aishah wanted to go.

I spent most of that Friday night playing Diablo, even finding a Puzzle Ring with my hardcore character, a character I let Aishah play sometimes. She loved playing Puzzle Rings, which open a portal to a realm with treasure, and loved fighting the monster named Greed at the end of that level. She also insisted on leveling up my gems for me when my character had gems to level up. These are things I forgot to write last time. I saved that Puzzle Ring for her, intending to let her play it on the Saturday, but there wasn’t enough time. Driving there brought all that back.

After dropping Josh off, I went to Norwood Mall to get some cold medication from Dischem. That was a mistake. I’d forgotten that the last time I was there, it was with both children at the end of the month. Aishah wanted to climb up onto the counter so she could see. Then later on, Aishah wanted to go into the toy shop, not really a toy shop but a shop called the Crazy Store that sold toys, among other things.

When I got back to the car, I could not hold back the tears. Why must I be so sensitive? I am struggling to come to terms with this. Each day I think of her innocent loving smile, and how she asked when I could swim with her. Each day, I am the drowning man.

I would have left the world all bleeding
Could I only help you love
The fleeting shapes
So many years ago
So young and beautiful and brave
[Excerpt from: The Cure – The Drowning Man]

Then yesterday, Josh found a glowstick he left in the fridge, left there since his school Valentine Dance earlier in the year. I still sent a photo of him to Megan, with the purple spray in his hair, and she replied excitedly, “That’s my son!”. And now I’m blocked, effectively meaning she’s blocked him too. How did it get to this? I don’t understand.

How did we get this far apart?
We used to be so close together
How did we get this far apart?
I thought this love would last forever
[Excerpt from: The Cure – Apart]

Today I ran out of air time and data, an accident due to Josh having the XBox on while I shared my connection and used it on the PC… then the XBox went ahead and tried to update Assassins Creed and ate all my data as well as air time. And it occurred to me, the only person I ever called (unless I used my phone for work) was Megan. That call I made every day… she was the only one important enough for me to call. Now I call no one.

Sorry about this dreary post. If you haven’t heard it, I suggest listening to The Drowning Man, one of my favourite songs of all time.

Advertisements

Why Aishah is important to me

Let’s try this again… Hopefully this will be my last post on this subject for now, and I will try my best not to write bad things about Megan.

Background: Megan is my ex, and the mother of Josh, my ten year old son who is with me. Aishah is Megan’s daughter, so she’s Josh’s half sister. In September 2013, they moved in to my apartment, and on that day, I quit using drugs. (Meth.) Somehow the beautiful little three month old baby girl was my motivation to be clean, which has left me feeling guilty for years because Josh didn’t motivate me the same way.

I waited a year, and then with one year’s sobriety I took part in the two programs that were stipulated by a court order to get Josh back, as he was in foster care. I took Megan along and we did those two programs together. Eventually I did get Josh back (on 15 December 2015), but by then Megan had moved away. She only stayed just short of two years, then initially stayed close by for a year before moving to Cape Town.

Recently they stayed with us again for just over three months, with Aishah now five years old. These are some of the many things that Aishah did, making it impossible for me to stop thinking of her:

  • Every day, she waited for me to come home from work.
  • In the first two weeks, we had a “bring your kid to work day” at work, so I took both Aishah and Josh. They had worksheets they were given by the receptionist, who Aishah called “teacher”, having all the other children follow suit.
  • For weeks, Aishah would carry on writing on those sheets, saying she was “doing homework”. She stashed them under the bed, where they were forgotten.
  • Every day, she’d ask me, “Are you going to work tomorrow?” and try to convince me to stay. We used this opportunity to teach her the days of the week. She knows them well now.
  • Even though she’s old enough to eat on her own, she’d insist I feed her, or wouldn’t finish her food.
  • Every night, she’d insist that I brush her teeth, or that she brush teeth with Josh and I.
  • After they were here for a month or so, she decided that she preferred to be bathed by me, not “mommy”. Actually it was like this for most things while I was at home, even brushing her hair.
  • She’d sit beside me when I played Diablo 3 on the X Box One, demanding that I “Sit back” so that one arm could go around her.
  • She played too. At first, she had to “finish all the bounties (in a town)”, and then she learned about key wardens and infernal machines, which she called “keyboards” and “machines”. She could navigate to any act to find the key warden, play it, and then go back to Act 1 to open the portal to the infernal machine. She also played standard nephilim rifts, but didn’t quite master the greater rifts which have a time limit. Sometimes some of the maps would confuse her or some of the monsters would frighten her, so she’d want my help. Also every time I levelled up, she insisted on putting my Paragon points on for me.
  • Every evening I play Diablo shortly before we all sit down and watch whatever series we are watching. (I’m a creature of habit.) While I play, my mother makes me a cup of coffee. Aishah loves coffee and would often drink half of mine. Megan did not like this, just like she didn’t like me giving Aishah soda at night. I don’t see a problem with such things… Sugar rushes are a myth, and if giving children what they want, but not doing so excessively, makes them happy, why not? After all, a happy child is… happy.
  • Sleeping arrangements were awkward, since my mother has the children’s room. My room has a queen size bed and a single bed, one for Josh and one for me. At first, the plan was for me to sleep in the queen size bed with Josh, so Megan and Aishah would sleep in his bed. But Aishah wanted to lie next to me. Both children wanted me to turn to them, so to compromise I’d lie on my back, with one arm around each of them. Then they’d fight over who could put their hand on my chest. Another compromise – they’d each get a turn on alternate days. After Aishah fell asleep, Megan would move her to the other bed; then she’d sneak back to me in the middle of the night. Last night I slept like that, reaching out my right arm to where Aishah used to be.
  • I’d take both children to the park, and Aishah would love me to push her on the swing.
  • Every day, she wanted me to play hide and seek with her.
  • When I get tired over weekends, I put my glasses on the table and lie down. She’d pick them up, bring them to me, and say “Put on your glasses”, meaning she wanted me to play with her. Other times when she was tired, she’d say “Take off your glasses” and then take them off and put them on the table, showing me that she wanted me to lie down and nap with her.
  • Every day she asked when it would be warm enough to swim. I took her to the pool, and she’d just play on the steps, waiting for the time when I could swim with her, but they left before that time could come. Even on the last day she asked me about this, and I had to tell her that she wouldn’t be here. (It is warm enough now.)

Those are just some of the things that I remember. No doubt I have left out many others. I literally can’t do anything without thinking of Aishah, and it breaks my heart that they left so soon.

For reasons that I can’t understand, I’ve been blocked on Megan’s phone now. Before these three months, we used to call them every night, so that I could speak to Aishah, and Josh could say goodnight to his mother. Now he can’t. Effectively she has blocked her son too and it breaks my heart.

Here is Aishah playing on the steps at the pool:

IMG_20180826_131916

IMG_20180826_131919

 

And here she jumped on my shoulders while I played Diablo:

IMG_20180903_193314

She was settled and happy here, and our bond was unbreakable. I love Aishah. I can’t look at these photos without crying, and I can’t fathom why this bond had to be so abruptly and cruelly broken. It’s not right.

Some photos from last weekend

Last week Megan’s mother visited us on Sunday, as she had some time in Johannesburg between two flights. It was good for Josh to see his other grandmother, since he last saw her when he was about 18 months old and didn’t remember her.

Both Josh and Aishah insisted on swimming in the complex pool – even though it isn’t warm enough for that yet, and I took some photos.

In the first shot, Josh is wearing the tracksuit he got from Megan’s mom. It’s size 11 to 12, and he’s 10, which is why it looks so big on him.

IMG_20180826_095802

Aishah can’t swim yet; she plays on the steps. If Megan and her stick around long enough, I will have to swim with her and hold her. She’s been asking me about that almost every day, but it’s way too cold for me to get in the pool now.

IMG_20180826_131916

IMG_20180826_131919

I didn’t get any decent photos of Josh swimming in his costume. There’s a video of the two of them, but I can’t upload it here. In these, taken right after they got out the pool, it seems Josh really is feeling the cold.

IMG_20180826_132346

IMG_20180826_132349

IMG_20180826_132351

Why do we make things so complicated?

I’d make a terrible judge.

I’m thinking of those TV judges like Judge Judy and the like. They’re presented with two people who have some sort of disagreement, and who make their cases. I watch those programs with fascination, often being quite unable to see through the layers of bullshit to find who is right and who is wrong. Instead, I see both sides. I see degrees of right and wrong on both sides, and layers of complexity hiding the truth. Sometimes those layers may be deliberate obfuscation by one party, but more often than not, they’re really just signs of the way we all make everything so complicated. All of us, to some degree, are selfish, self centered, self serving creatures who make everything about us, and seldom see anything from each others’ points of view.

There’s been an interesting development with Josh (who is ten) and Aishah (who is five) lately. Suddenly all their arguments and fights are being resolved, by the five year old. She has figured out that all she needs to do is say “Sorry”, and ask him to “Say sorry” too. He does so, albeit reluctantly, and then they move on. They play together and all is well. While her view may seem naïve and simplistic, it works. The amazing thing about it for me is that she does it even when she knows she is not wrong. That makes her, at five years old, in some ways more mature than the ten year old. It also makes her smarter than him. Heck, that makes her smarter than me.

I never did that by myself when I was a child. My father had to teach me, and then I still didn’t catch on to why straight away. It’s a lesson I’d since forgotten. Children are amazing.

As for Megan and Aishah returning to Cape Town, that’s probably still going to happen. But I think there is more to it than I know. There’s something she isn’t telling me, and anyway, I did originally say they can stay as long as they like. I was hoping for it to be longer than this though…

Is feeling loss before it happens a good coping strategy?

Time for a personal post again.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that Megan (my ex) and Aishah (her five year old daughter and our son’s half sister) are back. This was after agonizing over it for months, with her pleading for me to let them come back. So now she is talking about going back to Cape Town and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change her mind.

I should have known.

Things are not going perfectly, but they are going pretty well. I love Aishah like my own child, and she loves me. She’s happy here and I think it would be in her best interest to stay. There have been issues with both children fighting for my affection, issues with sibling rivalry, but on the whole it’s getting better.

Aishah meanwhile, wants to spend more and more time with me and less with her mother. She wants me to brush her hair, bath her, cuddle with her, and even help her brush her teeth. The teeth brushing thing started last month when Megan went away for a weekend. I had to make sure both children brushed their teeth, and take her with to Josh’s school sports day on the Saturday. Ever since then, the normal custom we have of Josh and I brushing teeth together at night has changed. Aishah wants to brush her teeth with me too. The bathing thing started last week.

A while back, we had a “bring your kid to work” day at work, so I took them both. Now every day Aishah asks me when she can go to my work with me. She also takes turns on the Xbox, playing one of our demon hunter characters in Diablo, playing standard rifts and bounties. Besides playing the levels, she even knows how to sell items she picks up, and upgrade gems. She’s actually pretty good at the game.

I tried telling her that Mommy wants to go back to cape Town soon, and she doesn’t believe me… She replies with, “No, we will stay here for a looooong time”. It breaks my heart.

Anyway, I’ll spare further details. The thing is, while I’m there at home, I am still just as happy. Anywhere else, I remember to be sad that they will likely be leaving soon. I’m not sure if this is a good coping mechanism or a bad one, but I have this habit, when something bad is going to happen, such as when they will leave (or someone will die and so on), of feeling some of the emotional pain in advance.

I don’t know why or how it works exactly, but I always do this. When I was younger, I thought it would prepare me for the real loss that would come later. But it doesn’t. It still hurts just as much when the time comes… All this “coping mechanism” achieves is that now I hurt beforehand, when I don’t have to.

I wonder… Is this normal?

Some recent photos

I bought a new phone last weekend, and it takes much better photos than the old one.

A couple of Aishah from the other day…

IMG_19700101_194237

IMG_20180701_113856

Last night, me with Josh and Aishah. They were fighting over me and I suggested a compromise holding them both while a photo was taken. Also, they are heavier than they look.

IMG_20180704_174628

IMG_20180704_174631

Josh and Aishah yesterday (21 June 2018)

Megan and Aishah are with us again. I can’t say if they are visiting or if this is more permanent, because reasons… As far as Josh knows, this is a visit, but let’s see how things work out. They arrived at 2PM yesterday afternoon, which was in time for Megan to attend the school’s parent/teacher meeting for this term with me. And Josh passed the term.

My phone is a piece of shit, so these photos are bad quality, but it’s all I have so far…

IMG_20180621_170031

IMG_20180621_170049

IMG_20180621_170052

IMG_20180621_170055