With open eyes

I came back from my last trip out to ‘the cabin’ last night.

It was a bumpy ride, more than 1.5 hours – EACH WAY – on rocky tundra, pup on my lap, sitting on the back of an ATV without any barrier between my bony ass (yes ask any member of my loving friends or family: I have no butt) and a metal rack.

Needless to say I’m limping a bit today.

But nonetheless, that one last weekend at the cabin was really special. I got to look at that part of the world through my camera lens again. I don’t want to forget what things looked like, felt like, smelled like. And that’s the best way I know how.

But special for another reason too: for the first time, we had two young kids with us. One of my friends’ has a 5-year-old daughter who lives most of the time in Edmonton, but is spending the summer with him here in Rankin. So she, and her friend Angel*, came with us. The idea being the two would entertain each other for the most part.

I don’t really have a lot of experience with kids. I used to teach swimming lessons and babysit a bunch when I was younger but I don’t have neices or nephews and my sister is only three years younger than I am. Also, to date, none of my close friends have children (with this noted exception, and that’s a recent development). I like kids, I really do, but I have never spent so much time with two children in such close proximity in my whole life.

And it was an experience.

Some of it was hilarious (most of the guys made a trip to the now-infamous ‘sticker factory’) and some of it, annoying (being screamed at for being a dumb poopy head can wear thin pretty fast).

But what I’ll remember, unfortunately, is how sad some of it was. And that’s why I’m writing this entry.

Angel is a 6-year-old Inuk girl from a neighbouring community. She doesn’t live here full time, she’s just here for the summer, living with her grandmother while her father works in town. She’s very independent (constantly reminding our friends’ daughter to WEAR YOUR MITTS! Or PUT ON YOUR BOOTS!) but also has a hitting problem (we tried so hard to break her of that, but we think it might be a little too ingrained) and when she’s quiet, is very clingy.

All this child wants is hugs. She actually took a nap laying on top of me with her arms around my neck in a perma-hug, and her face on my chest as we lay on the couch. Every now and then she’d look up at me and smile and give me a little kiss on the cheek. And I just wanted to cry.

This is the same kid who while her friend was throwing a temper tantrum and crying at the top of her lungs, whispered to me that sometimes she cries too. When she’s home alone after school. When she’s lonely because there’s no one there.

The same kid who the night before, yelled at the adults from her spot on the top bunk that it was UNFAIR that we were DRUNK** and AWAKE. That the KIDS should be able to be up because they DON’T drink. That EVERYBODY drinks. Her mom. Her dad. EVERYBODY. And it’s NOT FAIR. (Her words)

What six-year-old even knows what being drunk means? I know I didn’t.

She’s a good kid. A little twerp some times, but I guess that’s the way all kids are. I just hope she turns out alright. Because there are so many kids up here who come from situations like hers and never get out. Never get a chance. And it just breaks my heart to think that she could be lost too.

* I am changing her name because I’m a little bit uncomfy writing what I know about this child using her real name. I’m pretty sure she’s in an okay situation right now, and I don’t want to jeapordize that.

** Back off child advocates. We weren’t drunk in front of the kids. We were drinking beer at the kitchen table, but in her mind: that was drunk.

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One Response to “With open eyes”

  1. *Snort, snuffle « Serendipity Now Says:

    […] hoping (belive it or not) this is just a cold. Both kids at the cabin last weekend were sick. Runny noses were the norm. And just about every one of the adults who went ALSO came […]

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