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.