Airports and families

We went to pick up the mother from the airport today.  It was pouring with rain and the wind was coming as an icy blast from the Desert Road.  While we were sitting in the airport lounge we were dissociating badly and switching all over the place.  It wasn’t a negative thing, just unsettling and rather unusual.  Part of the reason was because there was a high number of families with young children in the lounge area.  At one point a girl who was about 3-4 and what appeared to be her father came and sat near us.  The girl was a typical 3-4 year old on a rainy day – full of energy and excited about seeing who was coming on the plane.  She ran up to the glass looking out over the runway and was pressed her nose up against the glass.  All the time the man with her was talking softly to her.  But he was also listening to what she was saying.  When she went up to the glass he  followed her and crouched down beside her.  He kept his hands in his jacket pockets and just talked to her as if she was a 3-4 year old.  He didn’t fondle her.  He didn’t talk to her like an adult.  He didn’t expect her to sit down and be quiet.  He treated her like the child she was and he would look after her.  She didn’t have to look after him.  She didn’t have to gauge his mood.  She didn’t have to stand in front of him for the fondling.

Is that how fathers are meant to treat their daughters?

We know that on an intellectual level what we saw today was how it’s meant to be.  We treat any child who comes near us with the care and respect that this man showed this girl.  But today for some reason one of us stared at this interaction and asked if that’s what normal looks like.  It was like it was the first time they’d seen something that didn’t involve a girl being hurt.

Soon after another family came by.  This was a woman with four children – some her own and some nephews.  She did an amazing job of managing these children.  She got them co-operating without making the older one responsible for the others.  The youngest girl was always monitored and allowed to take part in the activities of the others.  At one point the woman asked the children to sit down so that the could eat the food she’d brought to help ease their boredom during the wait for the plane.  At this point another young one of ours got caught in a flashback briefly as they heard the voice say to “Sit there and shut up”.  What the woman had actually said was to “Sit there and share your chippies with your cousin”.  The tone of voice she used was calm and questioning rather than demanding.  The different tone she used was enough to break the descent into the flashback.

I have no idea why these events affected us so deeply today.  I have no idea which young ones were so eager to watch what was happening at the airport.  I do know that it was TR who greeted the mother from the plane and went supermarket shopping with her.  That in itself is very unusual.  TR is a roamer like B, but rarely comes forward to talk to anyone.  She did talk to a former psychiatrist once, which was rather amusing considering she knows very little about our life in the real world.

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8 Responses to “Airports and families”


  1. 1 Ivory May 31, 2009 at 4:18 am

    My heart breaks to read this.

    As a child, I often stood back and watched my brothers and sisters with my mother and felt this way. Only, it was normal for me. Now, tho, I know differently and I made sure it was different for my daughter.

    Bless you, bunches,
    Ivory

  2. 2 castorgirl May 31, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I’m glad you could make your daughter’s life so very different from what you experienced.

    Take care…

  3. 3 davidrochester May 31, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Watching good parents with their children is always excruciatingly painful for me and my inners, as well. My mother wasn’t a bad mother; she loved me, but she was passive and ineffectual as far as protecting me, and in many ways I parented her, from an early age.

    When I see happy carefree children being children … the sense of loss is really hard to take.

    • 4 castorgirl May 31, 2009 at 9:57 pm

      I understand what you mean David. There is a sense of grief, loss and confusion. I hope your mother continues her healing so that she can help you both.

      What was interesting is that either E or One were very close to the surface while these young ones were observing these families. The young ones were looking with curiosity and fear, while E or One were getting ready to defend the children in the airport from the abuse that they were expecting to soon witness.

      So confusing. I wish I knew more of why we dissociate and are like this. It might help us understand why we act the way we do. Why did we expect that young girl to be hurt? Why did we think that boy was going to ram food down his young sisters throat? We didn’t have such a bad childhood, why does this brain do this???

      Sorry, rhetorical questions that will probably never be able to be answered.

  4. 5 kerro May 31, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I with you all on this. Seeing happy carefree children is really hard to take. Seeing not-so-happy ones is even harder. Hang in there Castorgirl.

  5. 7 mindparts June 3, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Thanks for posting. To be honest, I don’t see so much wonderful parenting around me. I don’t see the caring. We had a party a couple weeks ago and we had 15+ adults and all their children both inside and out. How many parents were playing with the children? Well, I got fed up with all the complaining the parents were doing about stuff that I decided to play soccer with the girls. I rather am happy that I am able to be a good parent. I see this as my main success in life. Could I be better? Sure. I have a lot of off days. But on the whole I try to be there for my kids and talk to them as I know they need to be talked to.

  6. 8 castorgirl June 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    We’ve never been good at parties, so have often done something similar to your playing soccer with your girls. In part it’s because we find it difficult to be “on” for extended periods that the party environment requires, but it’s mainly because we hate the bs that parties often entail. We’d rather be out running around with the children than playing the politics of an adult party. This behaviour was often met with hostility from the ex-husband.

    Even on your off days, if your girls have the safety of knowing that you love them, then that helps cushion those days.


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