The Silent 12

It’s my first-born son, Ben’s, 12th birthday today. It looks less unbelievable as a number than a word. 12th. Twelfth. I had to look up the spelling because there wanted to be a “v”. Because twelve has a v and it has been 12 Very short years since I met this kid and now I gotta spell it with an “f” cuz  Why The Face? WTF?

The past 12 years have been pretty silent ones over here, when it comes to the written word. Not because of busy-ness so much as because how are you going to string together some words to try to describe or celebrate something that is happening around you at such lightening speed, you’re just trying to keep your skirt from blowing up in the air – lifted out of your own body’s sheer momentum? Darn he’s beautiful. Such a lovely soul. So much kindness and awareness. Such strong beliefs. Such courage.

I like photos for this reason. And I know what they say about the “thousand words.” It’s just, if you have the right ones…you only need like 3. Or maybe 8.

I loved him since before there were words.

Drop in the Bucket

Maybe a year is just a drop in the bucket, but the rate at which the years are passing (like little faces on a roller coaster zooming by while your trying to turn on the camera app), it’s gonna be a pretty small bucket. I’d like to kick it. Knock it over and spill out all the days that made up the years that are gone – let the hours and moments  drench the carpet, imagining that they could be soaked up there, possibly even stain the matted wool.  I would lay in them, stare at the marks all day long, scrub at them with heat meant to set the stain and fists full of longing. I want the stolen kisses and tiny hands to come back to me; to pool here and there where I can see them all, floating about in the perfect clarity of what was once the uncontainable present. See tears and first words and the impeccable, astounding discoveries they made when they were doing nothing.

They grow up so fast – everyone warned me. The hours then felt like an eternity – how every need was laboriously fulfilled when no amount of coffee could keep up with the demands. Of course, the ineffable gifts of parenting were measured wholeheartedly, making every hardship worth it, but they were difficult to revel in – the immediacy of the next skinned knee or unexpected turn in events driving you up and out of the reverie. Big brother, so grown up at 21 months, leans in to kiss his newborn bro just home from the hospital – has every intention of kissing him – but bites the unsuspecting cheek instead. So the bite steals time from the kiss and the scolding steals time from the praise and suddenly there is just a blur of happenings past and no way to truly re-collect all the precious intricacies of these little lives, as they forge forward, dragging you behind them on the frayed string of dashed intentions and over-zealous plans.

But the loving is easy. There is that. How it cannot be measured, at last, by the clock. No calender owns it. Only an amorphous, inexhaustible heap lodged unceremoniously between your rib cages and eternity.

Tiger Mom

because I am such a die-hard “Tiger Mom”, I tossed out the 20 minute a day reading rule this week and spent the last few days with my son watching about 20 hours of complete brain cell-killing television shows. We even watched  WWE – or whatever you call those bizarre nearly embarrassing “wrestling” performances with the big guys in small shorts who talk like they are

hold   ing         pallets       of               steel    dung

in    their     arms   and      are      trying    to    gather      the

strength    to       form

big     words      like     “the”     and    “belt”.

Then I offered lots of pancakes and pizza and other fortifying food so he would have the energy to go pick out a 7 pound Chihuahua from the local rescue, because he hadn’t done anything to deserve it. After that we had salmon because it is good and not because it makes you smart and I served him non-organic cherries in a bowl with a lil’ pitt dish I re-purposed from a broken measuring cup. I let him sleep through the little chihuahua’s night-time crate training while I took on the job, even though I had said in no uncertain terms that he’d be the one waking up in the middle of the night. When my son finally did wake up, I made him more pancakes and put a band-aid on the hole in his face he got from a box of ridiculous firecrackers I bought him for the fourth of July. It’s tough being such a strict, bad-ass Tiger mom.

Spirulina Licorice and The Dementia

My friend Nat told me the other night “the thing about your writing is that you say things that I think everyone wants to say but doesn’t”. Aside from this being a huge compliment as I have worried that my blogging is merely self-indulgent, I felt compelled to say “Then…F- you!” Not to Nat, of course, but to every other person I ever wanted to say “F- you” to, but didn’t. And now, since I sort of feel like she gave me permission to say a few things that maybe other people wanted to say, I think F- you is very apropos. So there, I said it. Now, I take it back. I am even sorry.
That she also mentioned, in passing, a person whom had actually used the phrase “he has the dementia” simply made me happy. Not because someone has dementia – that is sad – but because someone called it “the dementia”. In doing so, he gave a secret squirrel insight more into himself perhaps than the person of subject. I imagine he has an old closet full of neatly folded doilies and handkerchiefs from 1939, and a trunk full of someone else’s old photos. I imagine he opens the closet only on the first Sunday of the month, at precisely 7:12 PM. He wears vintage white gloves that have never been washed but still appear pressed. He is lonely.

Hearts are broken all the time. Some breaks are more like surface cracks that hurt in the instant but seem to regenerate and even close after a modest kindness from time. Others occur more like tremendous re-enactments of the Grand Canyon – an act so ineffable and deep cutting that neither time nor any forthcoming kindness could propose to offer solace. These are the ones that stop time. The swollen heart syndrome that destroys a day a month a year a life…in an instant…that seems to last forever. They are the great global tragedies, the abuses done to the innocent, the day someone tells you they no longer love you. “F- you” doesn’t do it here, words fall apart in your throat, muteness only speaks to the surface. If I had a color for every bottomless moan and wounded yelp that cannot be uttered, I’d paint a crimson umber blood orange sky that wrapped the entire universe in forgiveness. I’d sing so sweetly, so quietly, so right.

People want to be acknowledged where it hurts but not dragged into the mire. I am supposed to say something funny that wipes all the badness away. “The dementia” helps with this. My own, and yours too. If I told you that my seven year old flipped me off the other day, you’d think I have some good fer nuthin’ punk ass kid with a bad attitude and a whole helluva lot of trouble headed his way. These are not the facts. My son is funny and sweet and kind. He makes me laugh everyday, from the bottom of the barrel of my gut. He is precious and he cares about the hearts of others. And, he gave me the middle finger. The funny thing was, he didn’t mean to . But it happened, at just the perfect time while he was saying just the perfect thing. Quite by chance, it was the middle finger that pointed at me, while he made some playful delivery and we both laughed until we cried. So inappropriate, so awesome. If, in the same breath, I mention that he also called a “mean kid at school” a “ball sack” you might think differently of him again. But I tell you, he is an angel. An angel who has a way with words way beyond his age.

Being married is a whole lot like a carnival. Caramel apples, merry-go-rounds, and the House of Horror. A crazy tooth-less Carni super-imposed by a lovely plump lady in a polka-dotted dress. Sun shining “this is the best day of my life” while a midget is stealing your wallet.