Our first separation, the first time we were apart. Not only was it the first time she was away from me, but the first time I was away from her. I’m sure you’ll get what I meant. What it was like for her to spend a fortnight’s holiday at the seaside with her father is one story. It’s yet another what it was like for me to spend fifteen days sleeping alone, occasionally watching the choppy videos of my baby and hearing her distorted voice over the mobile phone. I drove her to the airport and waved while she was disappearing behind the glass with her father. The next couple of days were a blur; I spent them making hasty preparations for some projects at work. How did I survive her first summer holiday without me? I still can’t explain. As if the time had stopped until everything was back to normal again, until my baby was back on my lap and our life continued like nothing had happened.
Everything’s changed and yet, all is the same.
Judging by the smiling photos of her, which I received regularly, everything was in perfect order. She’s grown. She’s almost five now. But she’s still a little girl who already knows all kinds of things, but understands next to nothing.
After two weeks, my baby returned: tanned, laughing, a bit confused. Her father told me that she said she hadn’t seen me so long that she’d already forgotten what I looked like. My daughter already knows how to articulate her thoughts.
She got back in one piece… with a bruised big toenail. A tiny consequence of her father’s carelessness. No big deal, right? That was my first thought and I refrained from reprimanding him when I saw his worried face. But when I asked what had happened, I got two different versions of the story. His – that it was only a minor incident. And hers, which I didn’t believe at first, because what kind of a father would leave a four-and-a-half year old alone in the apartment and go shopping? Kids do have active imagination so I readily accused of making things up. But after she told me the same story three times, with additional details, I realized that she was telling the truth. Having been left alone, she panicked, ran after her father and her foot got caught between the heavy metal door and its frame. It could’ve been much worse… it could’ve been…
I won’t go on writing about this because I believe that any parent who cares about their child can easily imagine the possible consequences of such an error.
My baby’s back and the big toe will be ok. She’s fine. From now on, I’ll always be wary and think of what might happen the next time she’s left in the care of the man who still hasn’t understood that children must be cherished like precious gems they are.