Thursday, June 1, 2017

Surtee the Lonely Robot

I never set out to write a parenting blog. In fact, it's the last thing I want to do - writing this blog is all about NOT being a parent, it's about doing things without a child on my knee, under my feet or in my hair (and, no, I don't mean that metaphorically.) Sometimes, though, my attempts to be something other than Mama - which is who I am 99.99% of the day, as it's the first word I hear when I wake, the last word I hear when I go to sleep and a word I hear far too often when I actually should be asleep - just don't succeed because being Mama has given me some very interesting perspectives on life. How do you explain dreams to someone who has never realised that everyone dreams, for example? My three-year-old confided in me one day that he "sees ideas with his eyes closed" - and he was astounded that I also see ideas when my eyes are closed and, in fact everyone does. Imagine: I got to see the moment when a little person realised what a dream was. Isn't that great? I don't know if it's blogworthy, but it made my day.

And this is what happens with children. In the midst of the madness, the lunacy, the incessant talking about all kinds of stuff that seems entirely random and disconnected and sometimes very head-wrecking, there are some moments of startling lucidity and astonishing beauty. Like, for example, the day my four-year-old son came home from kindergarten and told me about the robot. His name was Surtee and he was always at the window looking at the children.

(Now, this is the edited version. What he actually said was something like this: "...And then Anna said I could share her apple and I said I only like red apples and her Mama gives her only green apples and then I said I don't like green apples and then she took her green apple and she wanted to have my red apple and then I saw a robot in the window and his name is Surtee and Anna doesn't want any more green apples because she wants red apples and he watches the children going to the playground sometimes..."
See? You get really good at filtering information.)

"Surtee?" I asked, incredulously.
"Surtee," he confirmed.
I shook my head, to dislodge any Lego bricks the little perishers might have stuck in my ears and repeated, "Surtee?"
"Yes," he said, already bored of the topic. I saw he was ready to launch into another analysis of the contents of Anna's snack box so I said quickly, "And he looks at the children going to the playground?"
"Yes," he said with martyred patience. "He stands like this."
And he pressed his arms by his sides, sticking his hands out like little flaps.
"In the window?" I asked:
He nodded firmly. "He's lonely," he said sadly.
"Surtee is a lonely robot?" I said. "But where does he live? Is he a real robot or a pretend robot? When did you see him?" - but he just wriggled out of my arms and went off to find his little brother to concoct new ways to flood the bathroom.

Concerned, naturally, that children at the playground were being spied upon by some creep in a window, I spoke to my husband about it and we tried to figure out what the child was talking about. Our son repeated what he'd told me: his name was Surtee. He looked out the window at the children going to the playground and he stood like this - cue little flappy arms and our son's best impression of a lonely robot's face.
"Will you point him out the next time you see him?" I asked and he nodded. I put him down off my knee and he went back to play, probably regretting he ever mentioned Surtee to his weird parents (does not bode well for his teenage years).

So for days afterwards, on the way to kindergarten, I asked about Surtee. Was that Surtee? Where does Surtee live? Had he seen him again? And I got nothing but 'No' or shrugs. Weeks passed, the weather turned colder, and one day the blinds on office block overlooking the road to the playground were pulled up, to let in the weak autumn sunshine.
"There he is!" my son shouted, pointing up at the window. "There's Surtee!"
And he waved frantically.
I looked up -
and sure enough -
there, at the window,
was Surtee.


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Now we wave at Surtee every day. He hasn't waved back yet, mind you, but I like to think he feels a little bit less lonely.
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Special thanks to Katie K and Tammy for their comments - so nice to hear from you, it's like meeting old friends once again. [[Robot hugs]] to you both.

4 comments:

Katie K said...

Surtee seems to be shrugging, no doubt trying to be sang froid about being left inside when everyone else is outside playing.

Your take on things and way with words makes anything you write interesting. For instance, your "Yes, Love" post is one I'll never forget.

It would be an honor to be your friend.

Sigrid Swinnen said...

Wonderful to read about the interaction with your kid.
Makes me think back of all the magical moments when my daughter had that age.
I remember her being awake during a storm and she answered me, when I said that she should try to sleep: 'I can't, because my eyes are too big!'
You're right to treasure these moments.
And I love Surtee, life with small children is magical, isn't it.
Although there are too many moments that aren't magical at all :-)
You're doing great, mom!

Have a nice weekend, Sigrid

ShirleyGoldenDoodles said...

I have just come across this post through serendipity - and am in awe of your ability to describe the things children say so eloquently. I worked in early years education for many, many years and every day held such moments to treasure - and looking back I just wish, wish, wish I'd had time to write things down more. Some things you never forget - but others, it's just the essence of childhood magic that remains. What a privilege it is to be an observer in a child's journey through our crazy world. Surtee obviously has a real purpose, watching as they play - and well done for unpicking the important bits in the conversation about apples!

Dette said...

So sweet and funny. Glad your back blogging, love reading your pages.
I wish far too often that mine were still wee. Thanks for bringing it back.(Loved that playdough coloured carpet we used to have!!)
Dette