Sunday, December 24, 2006

Coming Home

Hi,” said the owl with his head so white,
“Another day and a lonesome night,
I thought I heard a pretty girl say,
She’ll court all night and sleep all day.”

We were singing that in the van as we rounded the corner Saturday night, headed for home. Monsieur was at home, making something yummy for dinner and I knew what it would be. It was his delicious beef and lamb and venison stew, and before you say it, yes, that’s little baby calf and woolly fluffy lamb and Bambi, dammit. I loves me a big bowlful of Disney.
We rounded the corner, as I was saying, and though the temperature was over 35° F there was a little patch of ice that my rear wheel slid across and cause my back end to fishtail and slide. I overcompensated, like a greenhorn inexperienced driver, and ended up spinning around the other way, facing the wrong direction with my van’s tail end in the drainage ditch, stuck. I spun my wheels only for a second, and then got out to make sure I was truly stuck. I checked all three kids, then turned off the ignition and called Monsieur.
“Can your Volvo bio-diesel station wagon pull a Dodge minivan out of a ditch?” I asked. We were only two minutes by car from the front door, on the loop road. However, it would have been a forty-five minute walk on a muddy road with three small boys.
“Not likely,” he said. “P equals MV squared, I always say. In times of great inclinations such as this, I recommend a man who could pull a train.”
In ten minutes, Skip the Gay Rancher, our friend and neighbor showed up on his Ford 846 tractor with a tow bar and chain. Monsieur was riding on the tow bar. He hopped off and helped Skip to hook the chain around the axle of the minivan. The boys stood by in the sleet and watched. They could not be convinced to sit in the warm van during such an adventure. They watched, all their faces the image of seriousness.
We were towed out in a moment, and we thanked Mr. Skip and invited him to dinner with us, which he refused in a good-natured way. But he did promise to stop by for Christmas Day.
All of use piled into the van. Monsieur took the wheel after I asked him to, not trusting my luck. He drove us home while we finished singing our song:

Hi,” said the jaybird sittin’ in a tree,
“When I was a young man I had three.
Two got sassy and took to flight,
And the one that’s left don’t treat me right.”

It was dark, darker than I thought it should be and then I remembered, one of the longer nights of the year had already begun and it was only 5:20 in the afternoon. No, it was in the evening. The sun had gone down behind Blue Hill. I thought to myself how different the rain in Texas was, so much colder that the snow in Kansas at this time. In a week’s time, the Texas rain would give way and the cold weather would be gone. I was getting used to it, the winter that didn’t come and the cold snaps that did. I had my gloves on. I hugged my knees to my chest and thought of home. I looked up and the house was covered from the eaves to the shrubbery in white, purple, red, blue and green Christmas lights. I know I had stopped calling Kansas home but I still called it “back home,” as in, “I probably won’t be going ‘back home’ this year.” Now, Kansas is “my parent’s place” and all I could think last night was, “It’s great to finally be back home after a long day.”
“Oh, my goodness,” was all I could say.
Through the rain it looked like a postcard. The lights twinkled and glimmered in a shimmered, watercolor effect. The kitchen light was on, and there was a fire burning outside in the fire pit. It smelled of burning pine needles and cedar logs, and of chestnuts.
When we got inside the air was heavy with the smell of ragout and rising bread dough, and of brandy cooking in something sweet.
“Yum,” I said.
“Mmm,” agreed the Littlest Two of the Three Boys.
“I need to put the rolls into the oven,” Monsieur said. The Bigglest Boy went to go wash his hands immediately, as he was expected to participate in all bread making. That is his kitchen lesson this month. Normally he would have kneaded and rolled out the bread, but we had been late doing Yule shopping, plus we had been stuck in icy mud coming home.
“I want rolls,” added Littlest Boy.
“You get dinner, with rolls and green salad and bean-beans, as soon as it’s ready,” assured his daddy, pointing him out the kitchen door and giving his little bottom a gentle but firm shove.
“And zert,” continued Littlest Boy.
“For dessert, there will be Papa Noël cake,” Monsieur said.
“Mmm,” said the Two Littlest Boys in unison. I led them away to wash up.
After dinner I sneaked out to haul in my gifts to Monsieur as he washed up the boys, hiding them in my underwear drawer wrapped in a newspaper. I then pulled out the gifts to the boys, carefully hiding them under the Big Bed.
This year, we’re doing two things a little differently. Instead of making Christmas lists of what we’d like to get, we make Christmas lists of what we’re going to give. Also, instead of spending the day playing, we’re going to Monsieur’s church and volunteering with a food bank, sorting some canned and boxed food. So I’m taking some joy in what I’m giving this year.
We went downtown to the Dell Community Center for latkes, klezmer, dreidels and gelt. We brought our Round Mountain Menorah to light, and I met a lot of people Monsieur hadn’t seen in years.
For some reason, Monsieur wants us all to have our passports in order and ready for a trip at any time. He says that work may end up causing him to take an assignment overseas, but he doesn’t know where or for how long. Last time he was out of town for work, he was gone for two weeks; we got fussy and missed him terribly. If it should come to that, he wants us to be a long, all of us. I’m cool with that. Also, I’ve never been anywhere except Florida and New York City, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the world, should it happen.
Meanwhile, we’re holed up, the rain tap-taps the windows, I’m in my plaid flannels, the Bigglest Boy is wrapped up in three blankets and thinks I don’t know that he’s reading the Discovery flight reports under his blanket with a flashlight. I’m going to go and gently remind him he’s not going to be able to get up on time if he stays up reading.
I’m then going to ask for one good thing from Monsieur, the one thing I always want, that one thing that can make me sleep more soundly than warm cocoa with a shot of cognac.
Have yourself a Merry little Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

armistice day

This post began as a reply to Agony, but it deserves its own post.

We’re looking only at the therapy because we really don’t wanna play with meds right now. Monsieur has vetoed that, and he’s the daddy, I’m just the … well, I have veto power about some things too, but I’m gonna go with his instincts on this one. We really, really don’t know much of the long term effects of these meds, is his argument, and there’s a very good chance that he’s going to have to get along without them, should he decide to be an American and play the Great American Health Care Crap Shoot Lottery. He may someday wind up on no insurance and dependent - even hooked - on meds that are $200 a month in a crap economy. Then he’d not have the means to deal without; no experience with reality on the terrible, ugly level and how to find that happy place.

I’m putting what he said in my own words, as I didn’t write it down when he said it, but that’s the gist of it.

To all of you, thanks. Bigglest Boy and I’ve been talking and he’s OK with me. A little. Sometimes. He agreed to call a truce because we both have decided to live in this house; him because he was born there, me because I just think that it is my destiny.

I hope it’s a truce, and not a cease-fire.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Bigglest Boy has been going to therapy. You might remember that he has had major issues. He’s such a good student and all, but I know a lot of kids, growing up, who were good students but had terrible behavior. I’m trying to be understanding but the rage & destruction really scares me. I don’t know what to do with him sometimes; I send him to his room but lately he’s been so scary that I’m afraid to do that. I’m afraid… I’m afraid to even say what he might do when he’s full of that loathing.
Yesterday, after a bad day at school when he was separated from everyone else for the entire day. When we went home the Two Littlest Boys were allowed to paint and make designs and decorations and Bigglest Boy had to sit in the kitchen and read. Bigglest Boy had to bathe before dinner, which he hates doing, and an outburst at dinner meant he had to be separated from the table and he had to eat with his daddy in another room. I can’t control him and I think the only thing that keeps him in line when his daddy is around is a realization that there’s someone else in the house who is stronger than he is.
Bigglest Boy is now much, much stronger than I am. He is eight years old, he is almost five feet tall and weighs about 98 lbs. However, he can throw a large, solid oak glider rocker that looks like this all the way across a living room. When he did that, it missed me by maybe half a foot. It scared me. It caused me to think that the other kids aren’t safe from his anger. When he is away from other kids and he is sent to his room, I try to talk to him but all he could do was cry. And it wasn’t a child’s cry, it was the serious, self-loathing cry of someone ten years older.
“I wish I were dead.” “Why don’t you just put me in jail?” And finally he came out and said, “I really just hate you.”
“Why do you hate me?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I just wish you weren’t here, and I was in jail,” he sobbed.
“Why do you wish you were in jail?”
“I wish you were in jail, too,” he said, through his sniffles and tears.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because you’re bad. Because you make me angry. Because you killed my mother.”
I couldn’t even take a breath when he said that. Did he really think that?
“Why did you say that?” I asked. I tried to stop from crying but it just started pouring out. I was so furious at him, while I tried to remember that he’s just a little boy. He’s eight years old.
“Because you hated her,” he said, and he turned and pressed his face into his pillow, and punched the pillow as hard as he could.
“I never, ever hated your mother,” I said, trying to keep my voice calm. “I loved her more than any friend I ever had.”
He sat up, turning around slowly and looking at me like I was poison. “More than Daddy?”
I thought about it, and said finally. “Yes. Well… I don’t know. A lot. I don’t know. Well, about the same, if not more than your daddy.”
He looked away.
“A lot,” I repeated. “I loved your mama a lot.”
He lay face down again and cried. I asked him if he wanted anything, and he shrugged, not facing me. I tried to touch him gently on his shoulder, but he moved away quickly.
“I should take your shoes off, if you’re going to lay on the bed,” I said softly.
He didn’t argue, so I slipped his shoes and socks off. He flexed his feet, which made his toes creak and crack like an old man’s. I squeezed his feet, one in each hand, and he sighed. I took that sigh as an okay, and kept rubbing his feet, which felt like bags of rocks; they were so knotted and tense. I had been squeezing and rubbing his feet for about five minutes when Monsieur stuck his head in the door. I looked up and smiled at him, and kept rubbing Bigglest Boy’s feet. Monsieur smiled back, and closed the door.
Bigglest Boy had stopped sniffling. When my hands got tired, I stopped and I said gently, “Feel okay?”
He nodded into his pillow.
“Still hate me?” I asked softly.
“I don’t know,” he said.
I took that as a positive sign, and told him he could come back downstairs with us when he was ready.