I can’t look at you right now.
I can’t let you see how I’m really feeling.
I just want to stop still for a moment.
We have stepped away from the safe location of home and the barriers are down.
We always go here, to this holiday vacation, it’s something we know.
It’s never easy, but it’s manageable with enough adults all working from the same script.
A place I usually don’t want to leave.
Now, it’s getting harder and I can’t find a moment to recharge the batteries.
I can’t do this anymore.
The meltdowns are building daily at a tumultuous speed. There is no space to breathe. To recover. To gather my thoughts.
I’m in the airport queue, surrounded by hot and sweaty people, as my PDA’er flies into a feral rage.
I’ve been bitten, slapped and spat at. She growls and pushes into standers looking by.
She swipes at me and sends my glasses crashing on the tiles.
I’m not built to be battered.
My mental state feels fragile once again.
I feel like a rag doll – she is so strong and overpowering in her mist.
My hands have been scratched and blood is piercing through.
My vision is blurry but I still can feel the heat from all the staring faces.
Stop looking at us. There is no escaping.
She can’t take it. I can’t take it.
I’m left no choice but to restrain her in a safe place.
The bags are scattered, our two passports are lying disused on the ground.
My other children have gone through passport control with their grandparents.
They are all waiting.
I can’t look.
Please make this all better.
Take it away.
We had everything planned, we used our strategies.
The unprecedented environment, the location, has taken control of any skills I had.
Her screams are guttural and her throat is scratched.
I use my voice to try to calm her.
She’s fighting against me and with a bolt of strength my knee bruises against the floor.
The people have gone.
We can’t go through until she is out of this manic state.
I see a plane back on the runway.
I want to be on it. I want a rest. I want to be alone.
But I can’t.
I have to carry on.
I try again to chant some words, soothing like a lullaby.
The space in the empty terminal is gradually helping the meltdown.
We finally attempt to recover our belongings.
They look at us, as I begin to sob, we give our passports over.
“C’est bon,” reassures the guard.
I can’t smile back at him.
He’s a stranger but I can’t pretend I’m a brave parent.
I can’t let him see me right now.
I can’t let anyone see I’m not a warrior right now.