I never asked her, but I can imagine that Maria had plenty of moments when she wished she’d never promised my mother to take care of me. I wouldn’t blame her. For these first months with me must have been horrendous.
I cried incessantly and, although I was – and still am – only a little fellow, you wouldn’t think so judging by the ear-piercing noise I was able to make. The ISPCA turned up at the Lazy Elves’ doorstep on several occasions, alerted by worried neighbours who complained of sounds of pigs being slaughtered slowly.
Maria told me later that I was fine as long as she was carrying me around, singing Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline at the top of her voice, skilfully imitating the PWEP-PWEP-PWEP of the trumpets as well. For those of you that don’t this song, go ask your parents. Once you hear it, you’ll get the picture. Song Sung Blue sometimes worked as well, but Sweet Caroline with trumpets was the only guaranteed remedy. Up until this day Maria cannot listen to it without getting a panic attack.
Thank goodness for that old woman that suggested that I had a cow’s milk allergy or I don’t know what would have happened. Maria might have taken me apart and turned me into something that didn’t make a sound, like one of her mushrooms. I certainly wouldn’t have blamed her, the way I was carrying on.
As soon as Maria started feeding me kitten formula I was grand. Perhaps that’s why I have always been able to form good relationships with cats. Anyway, I stopped crying and Neil Diamond was never heard from again.
Maria started taking me out in a pram and I was having a blast. She took me to all the beautiful sights Ireland has to offer – and there are many of them – where I would stare out of the pram and intuitively understand the earth, the universe and all the beauty that was in it.
The thing I didn’t understand, though, was the weird reactions of passers-by we would get. There would be these people wanting to have a looksy at the wee one, being me, who would stumble backwards as soon as they’d see me. One peek and they would run for the hills, if there were any, or wherever their legs would carry them off to.
Maria told me not to worry. The time would come when people would begin to be ready for me and that would be the time to start my magic. I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. How could I, I was only a baby. But I believed her right away. She was my whole world. How could she be anything else but right?
The questions really started coming when I first went to school. Maria wanted me to be a mouse of the world and get a good start in life. So I went to the National School that was closest to our house. I was picked on terribly. The kids were really horrible to me and I didn’t have the faintest idea why.
‘You’re different and that scares them.’
‘Different how?’ I asked.
Maria sighed and took me by the hand
‘Come. I have something to show you.’ she said.
We left the house and went into Tralee, turned several corners until we stopped in front of a shop that we entered. It was the kind of shop that sells all sorts of things to dress up your house. I followed Maria into the shop. She walked resolutely over to one of the corners where shiny object in many different shapes were hanging and standing. I learned that they were called mirrors.
She lifted me up and held me in front of one of them. I let out a frightened yelp. Opposite me there was an odd looking tiny blue woolly shape.
‘What is that!’ I yelled.
‘That’s you.’ Maria replied.
‘But I’m a boy, a normal boy.’
‘Yes, you are a boy. But you are far from normal, you are special.’
Maria looked at me so intently and so fondly, it almost made me cry.
You see, I had never seen myself before.
Elves don’t have mirrors. Being magical creatures they can’t be caught by anything unnatural. So, while your eye can see them, things like mirrors can’t capture their image. They just don’t reflect in them.
Since there were no mirrors in the house, I had literally never seen myself until that moment. I had only seen other people who could walk like me, talk like me, and think (most of the time) like me. It had never even occurred to me that I didn’t look like them.
Maria took me home and gave me a bowl of hot chocolate. She figured this would be a good time to tell me how I came to be and all that my mother told her about my life’s purpose.
While I sipped the comforting chocolate, I heard everything there is to know about me.
Her story resonated with my deepest core and suddenly our tour around Ireland’s most impressive landmarks came to mind. Me in my pram, Maria pushing it everywhere. For a moment that feeling of understanding everything came back to me.
It made sense. I wasn’t like anyone, but then again I wasn’t meant for just any life either.
Slowly I came to terms with what fate had in store for me.
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