I was still on a high, having just returned the awesome Skoda Octavia wagon that we borrowed for a week. My wife came to pick me up at VW headquarters after dropping our eldest son off at daycare. As I hopped in the passenger seat, I sensed something was amiss. Her facial expression echoed her words. “We need to talk.” I felt like I vomited my heart into my mouth, and swallowed it promptly.
We didn’t realise we had already boarded that rollercoaster, and it was climbing faster than I could grab hold of the dodgy safety bars. None of this safety-harness-over-the-chest-please-hold-me-in-tight business, I’m talking about a ricketty-as-shit-like-the-old-Bush-Beast-from-Wonderland type of feeling.
My wife took a deep breath, and told me that the boys’ daycare flagged developmental concerns about both our boys, in particular, our eldest son. Her mouth kept moving and I heard her words. My mouth also moved and made some noises in return. I can’t remember what was said.
I exchanged glances with my wife as we talked and drove in what seemed like slow motion, irregular stretches of time between heartbeats. We kept climbing that rollercoaster higher and higher. I looked back at our youngest son who was blissfully asleep in his car seat after a feverish night, unaware of the world of language, signs and labels that we were currently traversing through.
That’s not what they said. No they didn’t! Don’t you say it. Don’t you dare say that word.
The director at our centre was gracious and used words carefully as to avoid causing distress. But my mind rapidly replaced words, because that’s what we all knew was being implied. One of the possibilities to explain various phenomena.
We tipped over that rollercoaster’s first hill, where that strange thing happens. When you open your mouth to scream, but not a sound comes out, well at least you don’t hear or remember any noise. Everything is a silent blur and you try to catch your breath, breathe in, but you’re not even sure if you’re still in the middle of screaming. Why did we agree to get on this ride? Who’s stupid idea was this?
The circle of blame goes round and round, all day long.
How could we have let this slip by? Why were we not watching closely? Who did this to our sons? Who’s fucking fault was it? Why didn’t we do enough? What did I do wrong? Why am I such a bad parent?
That escalated quickly. We were at the mercy of the downhill momentum.