Thursday, May 25, 2006
In Memoriam, MGBL
It’s been a year now, Maggie. Your kids are growing by the day. Littlest Boy can talk in sentences and pick out words on a page, Middlest Boy can read and recite poetry, Bigglest Boy (I think that’s him at right) can do middle school math and very good book reports.
Do you remember when you were at my apartment with my then-boyfriend SH? Something someone told me reminded me of that. You didn’t like him; he came on too strong you said, something like that. But you were gracious and friendly to him. Then he asked you what the Chinese tattoos on your leg said. You could have said that you didn’t really read Chinese that well or you didn’t recognize the characters. But you didn’t; you looked at the tattoos studiously for a few seconds, then you said, “It’s a traditional script, not used much in modern Chinese literature. It says, ‘If your dick were as disappointing as mine is, you’d get a Chinese tattoo, too.’” Then you looked up at him, and just before he was going to say something rude, you winked at him and completely disarmed him. “Actually, I don’t really know what it says,” you said. “I only learned a little Chinese when I was little.” He laughed.
Your boys are a real challenge. They require discipline and I am not strict enough. When Middlest Boy cries because he got in trouble, I want to give in, but I don’t. I keep a stern expression on my face as his face crumples up to cry, though my heart melts. When he finally goes up to his room to cry loudly and demonstratively, I go to your room, and I cry silently.
Your students miss you. E thinks I’m going to go away soon. When I was assisting at the co-op, I think that she was pushing me and your husband together in her own mind just so I would have that much more of an incentive to stay. But she needn’t have pushed or worried. I will stay for a while.
I give out copywork to do as discipline, like I hear you did. For the biggest kids, it’s 10 lines for the first offense, 20 for the second offense, and so on. I gave it to A the other day – she was rude to Middlest Boy again, and she did 30 lines of “Always show kindness in word and in deed.” Then she said, “This is much easier than when [Ms Maggie] used to make us do it in Korean.”
“She made you do it in Korean?” I asked.
“Sure, didn’t you know that?” A said half triumphantly that yet again she knew something that I didn’t. She got out her notebook. “Here’s one. And here are some rules in Korean she made us do.”
I took the originals from her, that you had written out; I scanned them and have two of them here. I don’t know what they mean; no one else did either. Monsieur made a guess from memory, but he isn’t too sure. But the next time A acts up in school, she’s doing her lines in Korean.
I wish I could be more strict with them, but I guess I still am a kid; when they act up I kind of act up a little too, which only encourages them. When Monsieur and I review the day, I sometimes get a mini-lecture on discipline. He is very supportive and it’s all very constructive, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get this part down.
Do you remember when I was in Oleanna as the professor’s wife and the director was wanting a certain read on a line and she didn’t know what she wanted? I had to guess, and I didn’t do that well. And then the part got cut? But I’m sure of my place here, I just wish I had a better feel for it.
Oh, Monsieur… Maggie why didn’t you tell me how difficult he was? Probably the same reason I don’t go into it in my journal: because you were in love with him and couldn’t represent him to anyone else in a negative way. He thinks so quickly and he really keeps me on my toes. He’s easily the most active dad at the co-op and he still teaches when I have to take a boy into their appointments. (They still have the same doctors that you picked out.) He is very stubborn and he works too hard, he’s hard to get anything out of him emotionally beyond fierce pride in his family… gosh all of that describes your boys, too. I want to take care of him but I don’t know what I’m doing. I am still trying to remember where everything goes, and I hope I do all right. I try to control my temper and, believe it or not, Bigglest Boy is helping me with that, when he sees that I’m stressed he sort of takes over as lieutenant parent. He then sounds like his dad with a different accent. He puts his hands on his hips and orders the other two boys around.
We all miss you. I’d give up myself for you to be here. Monsieur has grown completely silent since yesterday. His eyes are distant and he barely answers, and he goes out into the woods or the garden a lot in the evenings. When I go out there to him after he’s been out there an hour or so, he says hardly a thing. And I know you visit sometimes because I can feel you, a little. If only you could do anything from where you are; if you could just fill us with that gladness you create, if only, if only, if only… well, you’re busy, I’m sure, but maybe you know someone.
I am holding something of who you are with me, something that you have left; some mark of who you are on who I am.
I can bring you back to my mind even though death’s door may stand between us.
And if I meet you on the other side, I will know you.
Yet I still yearn to see your face and hear your voice and speak to you and hold you in my heart.