i know what you mean!

broken pretty things

Posted on: April 14, 2013

May con,

It always begins with my fault, I admit.  For easter, I filled your easter eggs with beautiful gemstones and glass beads, the stuffs that make my heart flutter, even now when I am no longer a child standing in front of a shop back in Viet Nam at Christmas time and desired with all of my heart for just a tiny teeny little tinsel Christmas tree, about 2 inches tall.  I love shinny things.

At your age, you have come to love them too, not very different from many girls your age.  And me, as I shopped for things to fill your Easter eggs, lived vicariously through your eyes somewhat when I chose to fill them with beautiful glass pendants and beads.

Two hours into day 1, you already dropped and broke the tail of the sea horse, the most prized item of all.  You loved that sea horse to pieces just as I knew you would the moment I laid my eyes on it.

When we got home, I told you about how fragile glass is, and what one must do with things that one treasures.  Then I gave you my green marble treasure box, the one with colored inlaid shells mad into shapes of flowers and leaves.  Everyone who has ever seen it commented on its beauty.  It’s something I found at an old woman’s house when she opened her doors to give away all her stuffs before moving overseas.  I let you put all your gemstones and glass pendants in there, so that all the pretty things can stay together.

The inevitable thing happened.  You dropped the box by accident, and the lid broke into many pieces. The sea horse also broke into a few more pieces.  I know you were sad, but I was heart broken.  I said, May, what I give you, it always stands for a piece of my heart.  You break what I give you, you break a piece of my heart.  You cut off the sea horse from the string of pendants, because it was now broken, and you didn’t want it any more.  You gave it to me to throw away.  May, are you going to throw away my love when it’s broken? Are you going to throw away me when I’m broken and useless to you some day?  You said, of course not mommy, I don’t do that.  Your dad said, she’s taking it very hard already.  And in a way, I can tell too that you are trying hard not to give in to sadness.

What I end up with is the rich child’s dilemma.  I have always asked myself this same question ever since you were born: how can I teach you to value each and every single thing, when I myself don’t have a sense of attachment to stuffs.  I keep old things around if they are still usable, but if I want to toss them out or replace them, I don’t have any deep sense of attachment or sentimental affection.  No matter what it is, if it’s an object, I can part with it.  I see the same trait in you, and worse for you, I am giving you EVERYTHING before you even ask.  I try really hard not to give you everything, because, after all, a little child asks for so little. You don’t really ask for much, and when you ask, if denied, you don’t mind.  But it’s undeniable that you have so many things.  So much.  It’s me and my desire.

I threw both the sea horse and the box into the trash.  I should take a picture of it, but then I thought, what’s the use.  Some day, when you are old enough to read this and understand your mother’s heart, do you still remember the box?  I made a big deal of showing my sadness to you because it is a big deal.  I can always hide it, but to you I don’t want to.  I must have lived through life breaking many precious things, because I was a clumsy child.  You asked me, mommy, what can I use to put my gems in now?  I said, no May, when I’m telling you that I’m sad because the box I gave you is irrevocably broken, the sea horse I have lovingly given you is beyond repair, what should be said is “mommy, are you ok? mommy, i’m sorry, can I give you a hug?”


I know it’s your emerging sense of coping, defense mechanism.  You try to move on and think about logical things since you don’t want to deal with the sad feelings that cling to those broken pretty things.

But May.  Some day, let us think about those broken pretty things, because the world is filled with  them.

And when seeing them, I’m always at a loss for words.


2 Responses to "broken pretty things"

I have never left any comment here but this entry gives me really mixed feeling so I want to write this to you, to say hello, and thank you. I always love the way you write about your kids, especially about May. I am nowhere near the stage of becoming a mother (indeed I often tell my mom I need no one, including kids in my life), but somedays, if I have a kid myself, a little girl for me to love and nurture, I hope I will be able to write letters to her like this. It isn’t a lesson about life, but full of love and feelings.

Thank you again, chị!
Hope you have a nice Sunday 🙂

thanks for reading May Lily, and welcome 🙂

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