…and a kick in the butt
Noah and I are always together….so the smallest look or action or comment sets off a domino of shared and increasingly buried reactions.
Sometimes it leads to the sweetest of moments…a bubble that bursts in my heart flooding me with a feeling of impossibly enormous love. Breathtaking.
This morning, like all mornings, twenty minutes before leaving for the school bus I set out his clothes. His job is to get dressed, brush his teeth and then boots, coat, toque, scarf, gloves to face the winter.
I hate shaving, so I avoid it until the last possible day, beyond which shaving becomes a major contract which will leave my face as scarred as a clearcut Canadian forest.
This morning I grudgingly soap myself up to scrape the face..in the few minutes I have while Noah is getting dressed. Damn! I’ve only got a very old blade left.
He comes charging in.
“I can’t brush my teeth, dad.”
My face is already screaming. I turn… he’s only half dressed.
“Get dressed first.”
“I AM dressed.”
Careful, the chin line bleeds if I don’t negotiate it just right.
“No you’re not!”
He looks down at himself.
“Oh, right, I’m not.” He runs off.
My chin pops a geyser of fresh blood. Shit! For someone as vampired as me, I still have a lot of very vital blood.
I finish the job. I don’t look in the mirror, knowing that my face has attained that irritated, boiled lobster quality.
As I finish dressing in my room, I see Noah brushing his teeth in the hallway outside the bathroom, so he can watch the TV, 30 feet away in the living room.
He sees me. I see him. I say nothing…don’t need to. Have told him so often to brush his teeth over the sink. Why is it important? I don’t know… but it seems to me that everything is unimportant, detail by detail, but if you let one thing slip it’ll be an avalanche of details burying us both.
He keeps his eyes on me as he slinks back into the bathroom.
Oooouhhhhh, I want to scream as loud as my strip mined face. Instead, I retreat more deeply in my room, to find that bloody bill I’ve been avoiding but can finally pay thanks to a small influx of money. Cool, I can guarantee phone service for another month.
When I re-emerge he is back in the hall, brushing his teeth. He’s not watching TV. His eyes are trained on my door, waiting…like Hannibal Lecter watching for Jodie Foster before she even appeared in front of his cage.
It’s a challenge. A diss.
My rational brain has no chance to say “WOAH….WAIT!”
My lizard brain goes native, channeling my burning face, reacting to the innumerable insults that have scorched me throughout my conscious and unconscious life.
My foot lunges out at him…no intention of actually connecting.
Typically, I miss him and he either starts laughing and so do I, or he huffs angrily and gets out of my irritated face. Either way, his dissy little mug gets out of mine.
Unfortunately, this time it connects, barely… but still, right on his little bulbous ass.
He starts crying immediately. No, not crying, bawling. He looks at me with a “How could you?” wild eyed expression.
“Stop crying, Noah, stop crying. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
That’s a lie and I know it.
Snot mixes with tooth paste as I hold him.
A part of my disjointed mind notes dispassionately that now I’m going to have to change my shirt. Another part clucks its tongue in reproof, “See what happens when you don’t control yourself.” Quickly answered by another of my bitch-neurons, “What a model for your kid. Always telling him to control HIS impulses, yeah that’ll work.”
All this of course in split seconds, as he sobs against my chest.
“Forgive me Noah. I got mad, the whole brushing thing is disrespecting me. But I’m sorry I hit you, really.”
He nod his head… moves off, wiping his nose.
He gets dressed for the winter… boots, coat, toque, scarf, gloves …but also sets out my coat, my boots, gets my briefcase.
A silent apology.
This is worse than telling me off.
Flay me, draw and quarter me! Tear me asunder, now!
“Hurry dad…we’re going to be late.”