Noah needs to be at day camp before eight this morning, They’re traveling by bus to a medieval theme park two hours from the city. So we need to move quickly and efficiently.
“Noah what are you waiting for? We need to be out the door now.”
He’s thrown his body on the futon, legs and feet sticking out akimbo, He gives no sign of sentient life. And he’s naked.
No reaction to my martial injunction.
Finally, he lazily swings one leg to the ground. What the…..?
I move out of the room. Avoid circling the drain this morning is my injunction to myself. My anger will lead to his resistance will increase my anger will…
Many frustrating, uninspiring mutual emotional manipulations later, we’re on the half hour walk to camp.
“Noah, if we miss the bus at your camp, we’re done for. A whole day of work blown for me…and no fun for you.”
Net result of this sensical effort at involving him in his own life? He drags his feet a little more.
He’s often slow in the morning, though he still gets up at 6 or 7, even Sundays. He pops out of bed like a four year-old and pours himself into the attitude of a pre-teen. But today is a particular misery.
Rush rush rush rush is all I do. My mind rushes, my feet keep up. My kid drags his butt.I rush him along.
A half-hour later, I’m leaning against the brick wall of the day camp. Noah has disappeared inside at 2 minutes to 8.
Insane how Noah depends on me to elevate him to functionality so that he doesn’t miss any of the pleasures of his own life. If he had missed the bus, he would have been very very disappointed.
Some, mostly non-parents, will say let it go and he’ll learn to be responsible. My experience has been that it is poor strategy. After all, one of the most important things he can learn through osmosis with my life is to continue… at all costs.
I embark on the walk back home… quickly even though there is no temporal necessity. If I slow down I will fall down. Or so it feels. Keep the tonus.
As I turn the corner, I’m submerged by the sound of sobbing. A few dozen steps away….a couple. A man, his back to me, is cradling a small boy in his arms. The child is small enough that his feet and legs don’t exceed the man’s girth. His head is on the shoulder of what I assume is his dad. Total abandon, face hidden, bony little shoulders shaking in despair.
The man is rushing, rushing rushing as the boy sobs.
Those aren’t spoiled sobs. Not attempts at obtaining some favor. The boy is crying out of real profound sadness. I’m a dad so I can hear the difference.
The man rushes rushes rushes. I can feel him about to explode.
He reaches an apartment door and knocks loudly without hesitation. Without waiting for an answer he knocks a second time. The door finally opens and he steps in.
As I walk by on the sidewalk I can see the man arguing angrily with a woman. The boy has buried his head in the man’s shoulder and has stopped sobbing. His silence is worse than his cries.
I remember when Noah would work his little body into mine as if wanting to be absorbed. Particularly when I would bring him to his mom’s house in the brief period when she had obtained visitation rights in court. Then she broke in to my house with an axe…yup…an axe. She lost visitation rights, was given a restraining order.
I still can feel Noah burrowed into me. He would dig deeper into my chest as we came closer to her door.
As I cross into the park, a father on a bicycle with an extension and a kid pedaling madly to keep up, zips by me.
“Yeah, so you can feel the wind in your face, that slows us down.” he yells over his shoulder to his girl.
“Boooooo.” she yells back.
“But then, sometimes the wind’s in your back and then we really go fast.”
“Oh Yaaaaaaaaaaaayyyy.” she exults.
As they disappear down the path I can hear them laughing at some inside joke.
I slow down, come to a halt.
I forgot to give Noah a kiss when he left.
Rush rush rush rush rush rush. Damn damn damn damn damn damn.