Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bruises And All 

No, I haven't seen Narnia; won't be there for King Kong; haven't been to the movies in over a year, in fact, and even then it was a solo outing, The Incredibles in an almost deserted theater while on vacation in West Palm Beach while Darcie stayed home with the kid; the next night it was my turn to stay while she went off alone.

No dates, and most days the wife doesn't even leave the house at all. We've had the rarified afternoon hour over coffee and windowshopping while one parent or another tried their darndest to keep the kids entertained, but we've never paid for a babysitter, and truly wouldn't know who to call if we needed one.

Evenings we stay in and settle ever more deeply into the still-new house. On the best nights we play together, four on the floor by the pelletstove fire; on the worst nights the kids steal our energy and our partnership like leeches, and we drop off to sleep at different times having said few true words to each other save I think she needs you and I'll take it while you help her brush her teeth.

It's not always this bad, but it has been this week especially. They're in a tough place, together and separately: both getting over vicious colds, cranky and hoarse. The tiny one cuts teeth, the older throws full-out tantrums, throws blocks at her little sister minutes after coming out of the last time-out for throwing pillows at the Christmas tree, bites hard enough to leave bruises that last for days and, when she cannot, screams I want to bite you! I want to bite you! from the relative safety of her room.

Standing in the lunchroom today handing out popcorn to promote yearbook sales I found myself explaining to yet another middle schooler that, no, we have no television reception by choice, because when I come home at the end of the day I want to talk to my family, eat supper together, keep them from the advertising universe, give them whole programming when they and I need it most from start to finish on our own terms, but mostly be together as a family, face each other instead of facing together a screen.

The kids get it, and are impressed. This newlife role modeling is harder than it was at the boarding school, but in our lightest hours we have more to show, are more the us we want to be, and it makes me proud to show them the way we wish to be, can be, have chosen to be.

I don't mention the biting, keep my sleeves buttoned to hide the bruises: this, too, shall pass, and they don't need to see it. It's enough to know that, most days, the life we try so hard to have is the life we see before us; enough to know that, some day, we will trust them enough with each other, trust ourselves enough to leave them behind; trust the universe enough to catch up on our movie theater popcorn, enough for a backlogged lifetime.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:48 PM |

Ah... Wanderer. This missive has such a melancholy undercurrent and we have not yet hit the winter doldrums. Take or leave the advice of a fellow Wanderer who learned that children benefit from occasional space from family, and parents who splurge a little from time to time and enjoy each other sans enfants are happier and express it in the subtle ways that children hear so loudly. Get that baby-sitter with no recent DNA connection to your children. Get you and D. out to a movie TOGETHER. Your children will develop their autonomy and your family will be more at ease.
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