A Random Image

Posts Tagged ‘mathias’

 
|| March 13, 2013 || 5:38 pm || Comments (5) ||

Since the dawn of Nick’s new man-sized stature and 34″ inseam, there has been some frustration over jeans and khakis inside our normally-peaceful four walls. The kid is an absent-minded genius and just grabs pants that look like that could maybe-probably-perhaps belong to him, no matter what methods Maxim has employed to deter this sort of thing.

“Listen,” Maxim said tonight as we all stood in the kitchen conferring on dinner, “I just bought a bunch of new jeans with the money that Sam sent me for Christmas. I’m  here to tell you, son, that I am going to go ballistic if I have to go chasing them down even one time. I’m serious as a heart attack.”

Nick, now fully one inch taller than Maxim, looked passively on, nodding. I was amused, because I know what’s coming. Still, I added my two cents in:

“Don’t steal Daddy’s pants, don’t get anyone pregnant: Those are the rules around this joint.”

It was here that Maxim nodded sagely, “If you steal my pants, you are very likely to get someone pregnant.” He slung a thumb in my direction, “See her? I just touched her and here you are, son.”

So, then, uh, my kid is surprising me. That’s what they do, right? They surprise us. Kids are way meta with surprise, even: “I am even surprised that I managed to be surprised again. *boggle*” This is how they make us effectively insane as persons and (at least temporarily) ineffective as parents.

I keep forgetting to tell you that Mathias no longer wants to be Mathias to you. I think I announced this shit on Twitter one day, but I mostly write about myselfabsorbedself and my navelgazey perspective here in this space, so my kids don’t come up most of the time,

(I tell you with a great deal of delight that, ironically, my ‘u’ key is sticking today. This has great hippie-dippy Cosmic MeaningTM, but I am not about giving even two shits about that kind of thing today. Except that I find it funny that the universe is so intent on me not regarding others that ‘you’ becomes ‘yo’. So yeah, fuck you, everybody else, I’m on the Me Wagon for a couple of days.)

and when they do it’s because they are a player in my narrative, a supporting structure to the thinks that get kicked off in my headmeat.

So Mathias chooses to be Nick and I guess I’m cool with that; it’s just hard to adjust my fingers to typing ‘Nick’ rather than ‘Mathias’. Part of it, too, is this: Mathias is my baby. Nick is a nearly-grown person who is in so many ways already a man. It’s astounding, the self-possessed and confident way he already has about him at thirteen. Thirteen is supposed to be the age of awkward and foolish and slapdash. He is none of those things.

And, oh, all the ways in which he is a fine person! I respect my kid. You know, not just because he’s another human, but in the way I would respect another adult. It’s so fucking weird, y’all.

Okay. Nick, everyone. He is Nick. Let us all clasp hands and support one another through this trying change. We can do it, we totally can.

(I am looking at you, Chris. Cheerleaderboy lives on in our hearts and collective weirdo subconscious.)

One day last week there came a great knocking and clanging and it was perplexing, all of this unexpected noise from the center guts of the house. Onceupona, when Sam lived here, there was a perpetual and unending noise rolling through this joint whenever he was home. It ran between a muted guitar riff and the caterwauling of teenaged hysterics, but there was definitely always a ruckus emanating from Sam’s person. He gets this from me. However, in my defense, I am not a constant-ruckus person; I require the balance of silence and introspection in equal shares with my rowdy explosiveness. Sam’s very lowest every-moment setting is a steady rumble.

When Sam moved out, Quiet moved in. Quiet’s first cousin Civilized sat with us at dinner (the absence of beatboxing –which was STRICTLY AGAINST TABLE RULES, but Samuel charmed the pants off of those tedious rule-things constantly– and fart jokes ushers in an instant civility, so strange), the spectre of Mellow floated through everywhere, and this house was just a little off-square for a time. But we got used to the shape of Quiet, the tiny ways he displaced our Samuel’s lingering presence here,  and the coterie of cousins that he was constantly inviting in.

So yes, Quiet apparently stepped out for a latte or a nooner or sommat: Since a great knocking and clanging had not been in the household vernacular for some months and I went to investigate. Nick, who now for all intents and purposes is the shape of a grown man, had moved every stick of furniture in his room save for his massive desk-bookshelves combo. He’d only left that as it was because no other wall was really big enough to accomodate it.

He did a good job of it, too. The new layout made all kinds of sense and brought a cool new energy to his space. After the furniture shuffle, Nick began to remove things from his possession without prejudice and with a great sense of purpose. So far, six boxes of beautiful books have gone to friends in other states. A toybox and two big plastic bins, all slap full of toys, have gone to the thrift. A scooter, a box of jeans and a trash bag full of shirts followed them. Figurines and action figures (*wince*) and most of his Star Wars toys (DARTH VADER HELMET!!1! with voice changer) got the boot. The piggy bank his great-grandmother gave him and the ‘treasure box’ where he kept the special things he called ‘prizes’, these sacred objects, gone. No more lamp shaped like the head of Spider-Man. Goodbye, fish maracas and very awesome glockenspiel. Long-cherished blankies? Pshaw.

He did, however, spare the sock monkeys and his Father’s original Dr. Seuss books; they were boxed and shoved to the back of the closet. I suggested we Sistine Chapel the monkeys all over the ceiling of his room. For about half a second he got an amused-at-the-possibilities glint in his eye, then it passed and he hit me with a firm, decisive “No.” Well, hell. Kid, you are killing the fuck out of me.

But I’m delighted, you know?  His thorough shaking-up of things is brave after a fashion. He’s always been such a firm creature of habit. When we announced our intent to spend Christmas traveling a couple years back, you could see the physical effort he was exerting to hold himself together. There is also the fact that for years and years I was terrified that I was raising a hoarder of the highest magnitude. Every six months would find me in there completely overhauling his room from the ground up, swearingspittingfrothing, and I’d always end up with a minimum of three trash bags full of just utter nonsense and crap that had no business living in his dresser drawers and under his bed. So this whole overhauling his life thing, while sudden and unexpected, is weirdly rad.


My kid asked me for a world map. I found a still-wrapped one for a buck on thrift.

At the end of last year sometime Nick asked me for a gigundo world map to hang in his room. Only a couple months passed before I found one on thrift for a buck (I am amazed at how often this sort of thing occurs). In changing his room around, this giant world map ended up hanging at the head of his bed like a headboard. The kid’s poked little round-headed pins in it: Red pins are places he’s been, green pins are places he wants to go, and blue pins are places he wants to conquer and take over.

So far only Greenland and Iceland are screwed.

 
|| October 11, 2011 || 12:06 am || Comments (18) ||

Orange wasn’t always my favorite color; I think at one time blue was. Most of my adult life, though, the distinction of favorite has been assigned to orange.

One time a mess of us were out drinking and I found myself alone at the table with The Prime Minister. “So,” he said to me, “if you were a crayon, what color would you be?”

“Orange.”

“Why orange?”

“Because orange is vibrant and beautiful and draws the eye. It’s unique, but think about it: You can pair any color with it and the combination doesn’t look bad. It can stand alongside anything and work with it. It can stand alone and be even more striking.”

The Prime Minister looked alarmed. “That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard, Jett.”

His reaction surprised me. What was so sad about it? I didn’t get it then. I still don’t get it. I’ve never asked him to explain and I don’t know why –me with my annoyingly incessant questioning of every last thing– I haven’t needed that explanation.

Today Mathias said to me, “Hey mom….I’d like to show you a video that I found touching.” I’m so astounded by the person he is. He’s twelve and he is near-about six feet tall and he has this newly-minted manvoice in which he uses words like ‘touching’ to describe emotional states and not what he’d like to be doing to girls. It’s wholly incredible.

Well of course I found it touching, too.

I’m orange, through and through. I’m not going to be grey for anyone, and fuck any silly people that think I could even possibly do such a thing. Not only am I not going to be grey so that someone else won’t be freaked out, I plan on infusing the world with as much vibrancy as I can possibly muster.

I’m unafraid. You be unafraid, too. Go on and be pink or vermilion or blue or green. Not only that: Draw the color up and out in everything and everyone you possibly can. Life is very, very short, despite our longest and hardest days that seem to be unending.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

My friend Keith wandered; I understood this, I am a wanderer too. He thought big thinks and he poured them out to me in letter after letter and then e-mail after e-mail. For each of all my unending questions, he had twenty. He was mild and brilliantly dry-humored and regal and kind. He was the guy who brought peace with him into a room, but he was not ever at peace himself. He was okay with this, in his way.

Keith was closeted the whole of his life, and now he is gone, and we –his friends– speak freely of his secrets because in the big scheme of things his orientation and even his illness didn’t matter. I just wish he had known that, had felt it in his middle and rested easy in the love that so many people carried for him, rather than worrying about currying scorn for who he caressed or kissed or bedded. He lived with our friend Stephen for a while, and Stephen tells me of how Keith would scramble, would put a dozen feet between him and anyone in the room if he chanced to get a cut, a scrape; he never let a drop of blood hit the ground.

He built easels that were every bit as artistic as the paintings he created atop them. He started doing this out of necessity: Who the fuck can wag a seven-foot easel from one coast to the other on their back? Eventually he settled back in Memphis into a nice little –if slightly ramshackle– midtown Victorian. These are some of my best memories of us, the ones in that house. One easel he built out of good cherry and I was blown away at the craftsmanship of it, all hand-rubbed and gleaming. He wanted me to take it, I refused. It was too grand. It was too perfect. He was a narrow-assed, mostly-broke artist. He needed the coin it would bring.

Of course I wish I had taken it. He was right; he could have built another. And another and another and another until the virus took over, shifting to syndrome, turning mean and taking his motor control, his lucid thought.

I just wish that I’d known that the last beer we were having together was the last beer were were having together. I would’ve made it last longer. I would’ve ordered us another round. I would have played one more game of Galaga with him in Young Avenue Deli. I would have leaned my head against that broad, bony shoulder one more again and told him another on-the-spot story. He turned my stories into paintings sometimes. Rich ladies in Memphis have my stories hanging on their walls and I miss my friend because forty is not at all an appropriate age for a man’s dying.

BKP, 1971-2011

About four weeks ago Scout decided to scare the piss out of me and her dad. Said fright was caused by her standing in front of us having a conversation one minute, then falling out and convulsing the next. When roused and sufficiently coherent, she described an electrical storm in her frontal lobe.  Tests thus far are inconclusive. Which, you know, I prefer to view as HALLELUJAH NO BRAIN TUMOR.

….but the image of an electrical storm right behind her pretty little brow has haunted me.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

About a week after that, I got a call from Sam informing me that he was coming home for four days over Easter so that he could marry this Very Cute Person,

randi
:: randi, university of alabama campus, valentine’s day 2011 ::

who we will henceforth call ‘Randi’ in all our future talkstory adventures, Muffinasses. Don’t bother asking if I like her, silly; just look at her Loverboy teeshirt and her pleasant countenance! Those things should give you all the four-one-one that you need. Okay, okay….I will tell you this little bit of confessional information: One time, when Sam and Randi were both fifteen or thereabouts, I told Maxim in the quiet privacy of our bedroom, “Now that kid? I would love to have as a daughter-in-law.” She is that flavor of awesome, see? That sort of awesome that had the two of us making plans for coffee and conversation even when she and my son were no longer a couple at one (or two? ahem) point(s).

So initially the wedding plans went like this: While Sam was last home on leave, the couple made the announcement that they would marry next July. Hasty, yes? Yes, hasty. But look! Over a year to plan a wedding! Just enough time to do all this. We wish Randi would finish school! But we love her! You guys are so young and maybe wait a little longer! But who am I to speak against passion?? I would never be found guilty of such! Let’s have a wedding, shall we?

Then they said “Hey! We want to do this in December.” Okay, ah, start the New Year together in 2012! We get it! Makes some sense! Whoa, deadline, but not an unobtainable goal if we get started right now!

Then this July and my head exploded because “SAMUEL YOUR SISTER WILL BE OUT OF THE COUNTRY AND HOW DARE YOU PROPOSE A WEDDING WITHOUT HER, SHE WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO YOU AND THAT LEAVES US NO TIME TO HELP YOU PLAN, NOT TO MENTION GIVE YOU ANY SORT OF FINANCIAL HELP YOU MIGHT NEED AND WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK, SAM?? I HAVE A LOT TO BE CONCERNED WITH JUST NOW, PLEASE STOP WITH THIS WEDDING IN JULY NONSENSE RIGHT THIS MINUTE.”

“Mom?” Sometimes the connection is tinny when he calls, far-away sounding. This was one of those times. “Mother, I’ve  got a four-day pass over Easter weekend. I’m going to fly in Friday morning and that afternoon Randi’s dad (ed. note: Randi’s dad is a Babdiss preacherman, but we do not hold that against her in any way) is going to marry us in her parents’ back yard.” He wore a black shirt and ivory Vans and she wore an ivory dress and black Converse and now I’m a mother-in-law, so weird.

At least I am consistent, as always, in maintaining a whirlwind life.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

So. The week before Scout fell out and two weeks before Sam made the tinny phone call, the very week that Mathias announced that he was joining Civil Air Patrol, Maxim and I had a discussion that really entailed not much discussion at all and we decided to leave our church. Rat-tat-tat. We met with our Pastor and told him on the tenth of April, my mother’s birthday.

Individually, Maxim and I had both been feeling the nudge to ask the other what they thought about our relationship to our church and whether we were to continue it. When I finally brought my thoughts up to him and told him the timeline on them, he nodded sagely and cited the exact same thoughts along the exact same period of time. We were essentially completing one another’s sentences as we spoke, and ended the discussion with the promise to pray over the issue for two weeks and then go over our impressions together.

Then the not-discussion, then the leaving, then the strange feeling of being untethered from a church body but being very anchored spiritually. We –Maxim and I, and even Scout– have even gone so far as to acknowledge that it may be in the cards for us to remain unchurched altogether. None of us is opposed to this. Jesus did a lot of damage with two feet and an unafraid voice; He never kept to four walls, at least not for very long. We’re supposed to emulate that man, if we really believe what we say we do.

We will miss our church family bitterly. We will still see them socially, sure, but not several times a week. Hell, let’s be honest: We will probably not even get to see them several times a month. Life is a storm of unpredictability and a ruiner of plans. That’s part of what makes it so incredible, you know?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

On Monday, April the eighteenth around two-thirty or so, I started to feel it. I guess it was something akin to a fissure in my brain opening, something that had been a sort of hairline crack becoming a gaping maw. I white-knuckled my way through the afternoon and then went home to gobble some Lexapro, thinking that my PMDD was rearing its head and hadn’t given me as much lead time as usual. I quickly got worse, my insides a low-roiling boil, threatening to bubble over; it made me physically sick. I could feel the lactic acid building and then depositing in my shoulders, my traps, in the backs of my thighs. It was a continual release of adrenaline and I was extremely nauseous by hour four of the whole thing. The whole of the afternoon a voice in my head gibbered about just wanting my bed, ohhhh if I can make it to the end of the workday I can have my bed,  but that evening I fumbled onto the couch and couldn’t move from there, where I fell into a fitful sleep by seven 0′clock.

I woke and dragged myself to the bedroom, still feeling sick and indeterminably broken, at around ten-thirty. The next morning I was due to drive Scout to her neurologist an hour away, and I thought that the Lexapro would grab hold while I slept (like it always did! magic! jazz hands, bitches! airhorns and goofy relieved grintastic visages and confetti or something equally as rad!), making me feel whole and right again upon waking.

I woke up lethargic and very, VERY resistant to the idea of leaving our home. In fact, I was somewhat terrified to even get out of bed. The low-boil feeling was still there and now I had a sense of defeat layered on top of it. I wanted to die, but it occurred to me that if I shot myself in the head my daughter would a) be angry that I ‘forgot’ to check her out of school b) be the one to find me c) be doubly fucked up as a result of having been angry at me just before finding my messy-headed self scattered willy-nilly across the bed. I tried to eat some breakfast. I threw it up. I showered and put on eyeliner, then comfortable clothes, then sunglasses that would obscure most of my face. It was a sheer act of my Legendary Stupidly Defiant Will that put me behind the steering wheel and on the road.

I am going to make a mistake. I am going to make a mistake and wreck us. My inner voice meant this in a more literal sense, but in writing that now I realize that there is more meaning to it. Anxiety’s theme song is I Am Going To Make A Mistake. It has a really catchy hook and gets stuck in a loop on your insides if all the conditions are right and you give it half a footing, did you know?

“I’m not feeling well,” I told Scout, “do you think you could manage driving if it turns out that I can’t?” She said she could, and I told her that I’d navigate the more difficult part of the drive and put her on the straightaway twenty minutes or so down the road. When that twenty minutes had passed, I’d started feeling better, so I passed on Scout driving for me and continued on. Ten minutes past that I was pulling into the empty lot next to an abandoned auto shop, so suddenly overcome that it was all I could do to exit the car and go around to the passenger side.

I reclined the seat, Scout slid in the new Damnwells and within a few minutes we were flying down Highway Tw0-Seventy-Eight; I was curled up on my side with my face six inches from my knees, staring at them intently, afraid that my brain was doing something I and it could never recover from, when ‘Sophia‘ came on

with a wink everything’s falling apart
and we’re lost in Lebanon

and then somehow I found my eyes fixed on the beyond out there past the vinyl and the doorhandle and the window, it rushed by oh it fell away and was replaced so fluidly and I hope I can hold onto myself well enough to finish this day, finish this day, finish. Finish it, this day.

Abel started
but Cain had to finish the job
for the God of Jealousy

No fever dream had ever been so brutal.

By four o’ clock that afternoon I became something resembling myself, but still only a poorly-remembered version of that, a slightly-staticky approximation. “It’s stress,” said Maxim the next day, and then the day after that I caught myself kneading the shit out of my left forearm with my right hand, to the point of extreme pain that I hadn’t even noticed in my absent-mindedness. It was then that I took into account that my nails were more gnawed than they ever had been –they were bleeding and painful at times– and I’d had this crazy rash on my chest that had appeared suddenly about two weeks prior. “I told you, stress,” Maxim affirmed once I recounted my realizations to him. I pondered the crevasse that had opened up in my brain, how extremely near to the base of it that the crack had run.

I circled the internal wagons. It took a week to really shake that feeling that I was just a fuzzy copy of my actual self, that I was play-acting at being something I was really not. I faked it till I maked it and I managed not to disappear. Feel free to mutter it under your breath, but don’t you ever tell me that miracles are the stuff of myth.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Wednesday, Twenty-Seven April:

The internet went out early in the day. Power was intermittent throughout the morning, but mostly there.  The mountain began to be battered. We came back from lunch, we left early for the day. Maxim happened to be off, so did Scout. My family was all snug in our home when I got there. I found out later that where others were hit once and hard, we were hit over and over hard. It was that evening before I found out that Tuscaloosa had lost one-seventh of itself and Cullman had fared poorly and the state park had played host to three twisters on the ground at once (a paramedic friend showed me a close shot he’d taken with his phone, holyHOLYfuck). A friend, upon finding out that we had no idea what was going on elsewhere, began to text snippets of information and news to me.

I called Randi, who was shaken but perfectly fine. A student at the University of Alabama, she had, she confessed, been terrified when the tornado set down a block from her apartment. She was coming home to the mountain as soon as she could. Her phone was messed up and she couldn’t make any calls or send any texts, but she could receive them. Sam, having just gone back to Texas less than twenty-four hours before, was on the other line, exceedingly not-okay with having left his bride.

Maxim showed me the snippet of radar he’d managed to pull up on his phone. “Unh, ah, there is this black area here right by us. I’ve never seen BLACK on any radar, have you?” No, no I had not, and it looked ugly, like a blotchy tumor on a rainbow landscape and wow, this is one of the rare times in life that merits one long, low whistle of disbelief punctuated with raised eyebrows. Things ramped up for us again. We stayed together, first in Mathias’ room reading and making LEGO magicks, then in the living room. When Maxim thought everything had passed, he went in search of ice and to check on his mother. He took Mathias with him.

He later professed the stupidity of leaving, because one of the events that occurred while he was out involved a massive oak falling across a pitch-black road a few feet ahead of him while he considered the merits of dropping a load in his pants. Another wave of storm had whipped itself at us and he’d been caught out in it. He crept back to his mom’s to wait it out. Back at home, Scout and I started hearing things hit the back side of the house.

“It’s still now,” I texted Maxim afterwards, “Come home, and hurry, but be safe.” My phone began dying. Maxim came home. “There is a tree in Dana’s house. It sliced clean through.” We didn’t get out to inspect, because I did not trust the dark and the clever way it might obscure dangling tree limbs with the potential to fall and crush or its ability to hide downed, soaked power lines an errant foot might find before a watchful eye could.

We made pallets for the children on our bedroom floor, set a lantern in the bathroom in case anyone had to get up later. It was dark, so dark, and I blessed this darkness, because it is a hardcore insomniac’s unspoken dream to have no glowing, buzzing streetlights slicing in from half a block away. There were no electronics humming, no tiny red lights becoming larger than life. “I AM GOING TO SLEEP LIKE A CHAMP TONIGHT!” I announced to no one in particular. We had laid our heads on our pillows and spoken a few words when one of us –I don’t even remember who, honestly– said, “Oh man, we got so lucky this time.” This was immediately punctuated with the explosive sound of a hundreds-of-years old tree a few yards away in the quick throes of giving over and going a fuck-all, messy horizontal.

I not only slept like a champ that night, I slept like a GOING-FOR-BROKE, FUNDAMENTALLY-DRIVEN, PIMP-ASS MOTHERHUMPIN’ CHAMP. But only for five and a half hours. I kept flopping around the bed after that, and then finally I got up and pulled on yoga pants and the notorious Pink Floyd shirt (that has made a-one-0r-a-two appearances within the voyeurnally tomes of yours truly) you might chance to remember. There were flip-flops involved, too. I slipped on a hoodie, leashed  up Banjo and set out. Only one other house on the whole block was occupied. Three of them had trees driven well into their innards. Others had broad, well-rooted oaks tipped over and leaving gigantic divots in the ground. Some of them had equally large trees snapped like toothpicks halfway up their trunks.

The three blocks surrounding our home were –and still are– a great mess. There are a bait of awful tales that I could run out in front of you, but I’ve already taxed your graces enough for tonight and I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest for me to actively try and horrify you.  Let’s just say that I am very well aware that the most tragic thing that happened to me, basically, was having to endure an icy shower and hanging clothes on the line. Which, if you’ve been watching any of the news footage (which I have not even had time to go through in any real way) is the cosmic equivalent of stubbing my toe in the presence of legless people.

Translation: Don’t you !dare!! complain, dummy.

And so, I am not. In fact, I am going to post up, in the next little real soon day or two, things that have been so right about this place and its people since all the weathercarnage. I’ll include some ways you can help from where you are, too. Tonight my back is growing stiff and my eyelids are crackling.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This week Scouty turns eighteen. Twenty days after that, she will graduate high school.

scout, is, well.....holy crow, she's grown
:: ’she looks like an album cover,’ somebody said ::

Then it will be June and she will be exploring another country.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This summer we will be taking Mathias to our nation’s capital because he is old enough to absorb some of what this country is, what this country remembers, what it knows and also what it would like to forget. He’s inquisitive and perceptive, a fact magnet and discussion-haver.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Next weekend my son is coming home to get his bride and take her back to the desert with him. They are so young and passionate, and life is too fragile for them to be apart one second longer than they have to be. The world won’t be any less brutish, but they will each have the comfort of a bedmate’s tangled limbs and steady breathing to reassure them as they slumber. Important, too, is someone to laugh with when everything is all ludicrous as fuck and humor is the only thing left.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

It almost never fails: The day after a brutal, tornado-laden storm is picture-perfect, bright and mild and colorfully soft. This always blows my mind. Still, I am thankful for it, for the respite and I am moved to make this urgent wish:

Sonno beato, world, and all the children in it; sleep beautifully for a time.

I’m here. I’m still here. Everyone I know is accounted for. Everything is possible and I brought my spoon because I’ve always been one to dig in and that’s one trait I will fight to drag up to the grave’s lip before I have to be put in there.

The afternoon my twelve-year-old explained the overall purpose of his spring-loaded pocket knife to my husband they were sitting alongside one another on the couch. Mathias had just ambled off the bus a handful of minutes before and was  busily working on one of his kanzanillion* comics when he asked Maxim if he could walk to the corner gas station for a soda. Maxim paused to consider this; apparently the pause was a beat too long,  because Mathias felt the need to sell the idea to his father.

“Don’t worry, I have my knife in my pocket.”

“Mathias, you’ve not been carrying that knife to school with you, have you?” He lifted his sweet round face to Maxim,  away from his latest doodle.

“No way! It’s not for school.

“It’s only for rapists and terrorists, Daaaaad.”

Sweet Muffinasses, I am obviously parenting The Child Whose Mother Worked For Social Services Maybe A Smidge Too Long.

*this is too a word. I know because I’m the one who made it up in two-thousand and nine.

 
|| December 26, 2010 || 1:02 am || Comments (20) ||

Mathias used to get in trouble for not writing ‘properly’. His first-grade teacher upbraided him consistently for drawing stovepipe hats onto his ohs, for making his tees grab hold of a clutch of balloons, for mother birds dropping worms into the gaping maws of vees. The alphabet became a vibrant host of characters under his hand over and over again, just as it had ever since he was three or thereabouts.

Finally I wrote her a terse little missive

Please stop stomping all over Mathias’ creativity, for God’s sake.

in an even more authoritative hand than her own bitchy little flowery notes to my kid. There was a conference. I won. The details of that victory are unimportant.

Last year, when we staged an Epic Superior Invasion of New York City as a long-scrimped-for Christmas surprise for the children, we were delighted to find that there was a Tim Burton exhibit at the MoMA. Tim Burton is Mathias’  absolute hero in the creative maelstrom department. We wandered the exhibit and at one point Mathias stood in front of a piece mounted in the hallway, studying it intently. He took half a dozen pictures of this one thing alone. When I moved in closer behind him, wondering what he was focusing so much of his energy on, my insides smiled large.

It was a desk blotter covered with a myriad of fanciful creatures, elaborate scribbles and letters made into all manner of things. Characters of the characters, if you will. Mathias’ own brand of genius was vindicated. The details of that victory are important.

drawring

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Every year I address a slew of Christmas cards to friends and family. This is time-consuming, but I love it and therefore I put in the effort. When the children got old enough to join in, I put a pen in their hand and asked them to sign alongside mine and Maxim’s names. Mathias was just a tiny thing when he asked to be included, with an inability to yet write his name but completely capable of putting his own personality onto those cards. It took extra time, but I dug in and put my patience into overdrive (no mean feat, I assure you) so that Mathias could contribute.

The older he got, the more involved his card signing got, so that I had to abandon our loose assembly line where the five of us ringed the table, the children and Maxim with their pens ready while I oversaw the process of  cards staying paired with their respective envelopes. There was a four-person correspondence line and Mathias had his own separate time with which to carefully pen his name and a wild imagining or two. Nobody got frustrated that way, and the youngest got to indulge the creative impulse that seems to be his constant and unwavering companion.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve found my Christmas cards in the off season. I get some really lovely cards at extremely discounted rates this way. I found this year’s sometime in March, I think. They were the finest ones I’ve ever purchased, made of beautiful heavy stock with a glossy photo of stretched across four accordion-folded panels. The picture featured four of the gorgeous Neapolitan angels that grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Christmas tree each year. The inside verse read, ‘…there is joy in the presence of the angels… Luke 15:10′ and included a description of the angels and their history.

By the time Mathias finished with the cards, they were significantly more spicy. One featured a googly-eyed Santa with a speech balloon declaring it a ‘Merry Crunkmas’. I thought my favorite one must be the one where he edited the aforementioned scripture to read, ‘…there is joy in the presence of the angels….AND PANCAKES.’ until I saw the very last one I was sliding into an envelope. It was to my parents.

victim of joy

I hope you are a victim of joy in the coming year. I hope joy wraps itself around you, rucks up your skirt and manhandles you like it has quietly desired you for a long time and finally decided to unleash the full force of itself on you.

And I hope it feeds you pancakes in the morning.

 
|| November 16, 2000 || 6:24 pm || Comments (0) ||

About 5:30 p.m. CST:

ME: *waggling finger in direction of youngest boy-child* WHY is he SCREAMING like that???

ELDEST BOY-CHILD: *oh so matter-of-factly* Because he’s two.

ONLIEST GIRL-CHILD: *frowning as only she can* And because he’s a BUTT.