To most of my friends I am a scatterbrain. Those, who know me well, also know that I have a talent to remember the most useless pieces of information that will be never put down to test or impress anyone.
Among those "golden nuggets" of useless information was always the knowledge that, given the choice, children prefer parents who don't tell them off.
It was useless, largely, because I failed to take any notice or make the most of this advice.
Instead, I had a bust up with a 6-year old today, who, after our usual morning squabble over a half-chewed hamster and scatterings of minuscular lego particles on every flat surface, uttered what must be the most horrid line of all most horrid divorces: "I want to live with Daddy! He is Nice and doesn't tell me off like You Do!!"
Struck by the whole-heartdeness of my daughter's statement, I stood aghast and unprepared. "Whatever you do, you'll always be the bad cop" a friend's advice on being divorced bolted through me, as I shrank inside in despair.
I knew these things happened, but mostly to other people. Coming from a broken home, I knew better how not to alienate children or screw them up with the "guilt' thing. So, the advice was useless. Until this morning, when it caught me off-guard and drained by the battles, losses and general feeling of self-worthlessness that came with divorce. This was so unfair!
"Fine!" was the best I could come up with, avoiding my daughter's eyes. I was losing the argument and she knew it.
37 years of age, bilingual and a writer, I failed miserably to come up with a better solution when faced with a little girl still dressed in her nighty and standing in the middle of the kitchen with her arms crossed. Ash-blond streaks of her hair were muddled with tears and her hazel-green eyes were wide open, as she watched my reaction.
"You can go and live with your daddy forever, if he is so lovely and please don't bother coming back!" I shrieked at my own ridiculousness, I was saying all the wrong things!!
Up, in her bedroom, I watched my little girl toss her pink 'n flowery belongings into her pink 'n flowery "trunky" (suitcase), as she packed to leave for "Daddy's place". I knew there was no point in trying to stop her - she had my stubborn streak.
She is also very smart (not my streak), so I'd have had to come up with a very good reason as to why she shouldn't leave this stressed mad, eternally exhausted and unadventurous mummy that I was, but logic was failing me.
Finally, I did what I knew best and what felt right: I wrapped my arms around my girl, pressed her little body to my chest and whispered "sorry, my flower" into the silk of her hair. She drew herself closer to me and half-whisered, half-giggled "I am sorry too, mummy"
We sat on the floor, next to the open "trunky", rocking gently to "twinkle, twinkle..."and whispering our promises to never ever leave each other.
I know this was just a taste of troubles to come and, with time, I will probably find an answer better, than "fine". Until then, "sorry" and "I love you" will have to do.
And if all fails, I can always play the ultimate trump card of every Jewish mother: guilt, of course... "Don't worry about me, I will probably be ok alone. After all, I only raised you and gave you the best years of my life"
I'd better start taking notes from my mum.