Sunday, May 21, 2006

Going Back Where She Came From

Paul was eight when Inger Lise was born. Until then he'd had all the attention and, having severe learning difficulties, was a very demanding child.

All through my pregnancy I'd been worrying about how he'd react and although he'd made it plain from the start that he wasn't happy with having the new baby around, by the time she'd turned one, he appeared to have accepted her. After all, she wasn't going anywhere, was she? Or was she?

It was winter 1987. Lise was about a year and a half, and Paul was almost 10. It'd been snowing all down so with nothing else to do, we'd stayed home and spent the morning baking buns.

That afternoon we settled down to watch some cartoons on video, and Paul asked if he could have a buttered bun. Of course he could. I went out to the kitchen, buttered a couple for him and one for his little sister, poured two glasses of milk and went back to the living room.

When I'd left, Paul had been sitting on the floor and Inger Lise had been sitting in the armchair. Both places were now vacant and both children had disappeared.

I looked in both their rooms. Nothing. Looked in the bathroom. Nothing. Looked in my room. Still nothing. Then I noticed that two pairs of boots were missing from the hall. Had they gone outside to play? Surely not. Inger Lise hadn't been wearing anything!

Because the flat was warm, I'd let her play in her nuddy pants (that means the nude). It's good for kids to be free of clothes, and nappies especially.

I looked out of the window but the back yard was empty. There were, however, two sets of footprints leading towards the side of the house, where the gate out onto the street was.

I quickly pulled my own boots on, grabbed my jacket and rushed out. Luckily, it had stopped snowing so even though I couldn't see them anywhere, their footprints were easy to follow. I ran up to the crossroads and followed them round to the left, onto the road that led up to the hospital where Inger Lise had been born. There they were, two tiny figures in the distance.

Although I ran as quickly as I could, I felt laboured by the deep, fresh snow. The temperature had fallen considerably during the past hour or so and was now around minus 10, and my baby was stark naked!

When I finally caught up with them I grabbed Lise, pulled her to my chest and wrapped my jacket round her. Her skin was blue and she was crying. The poor little thing must have been sooooo cold and as anybody who's ever been out in that kind of temperature without proper clothing will tell you, it's damned painful!

Paul looked at me, guilt written all over his face.

"What on earth were you doing?" I demanded to know.

Paul can't speak but he's extremely good at making himself understood through gestures. He pointed to the hospital (Buskerud Sentral Sykehus) and explained that he was taking his sister back. He didn't like having her and I can only suppose that in his mind, if that was where she came from, she could just as easily go back.

Yes, I was angry. What mother wouldn't be? But he didn't understand that taking his sister out naked in the cold could have been very dangerous, or that they could have got lost, or... well, all sorts of things could have happened to them.

But once again, things that could have gone terribly wrong turned out ok in the end, and we were soon back in our flat, eating buns, drinking milk and watching old Betty Boop cartoons.

Photo: Jarle Bryn


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