Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Completely Understandable

Attitude is a matter of perspective. I’m certain of that. People’s different views on life, struggles, recipes, work help broaden our perspective; sometimes we get a completely new outlook.

ordinary, typical me, doing what I ordinarily do
My daughter in law, Andrea, is a wonderful mother. She’s fun and creative. She’s strict enough and teaches continually. She provides a variety of different learning experiences for the kids each week and she has given my grandsons the gift of enthusiasm. The way they describe their snow fort as “the greatest! You’ve got to see it, Grannie!” is only one example.
 I know that one reason I can enjoy my grandsons so much is that Andrea and Joe take time to teach them how to behave. This is a long term commitment that is lived out minute by minute through setting limits, creating a schedule, discussing proper behavior and manners, etc.

Because Joe and Andrea are ultimately responsible for their two boys, they are watchful. When my grandsons were here this week, one of them (who shall remain nameless) washed his hands in the bathroom all by himself. However after drying his hands, he grabbed the hand towel, bit it and dashed off running through the house, shaking his head like a dog biting a captured mole and yelling (the yelling was muffled by the towel he was still biting).

What's wrong with putting a table runner on your head?
Though I thought this was a little different, it didn’t particularly upset me. But I knew that Andrea and Joe would not want him to do that. In general, they discourage chewing on fabric, and really who wouldn’t? The child, however, thought it was hilarious and laughed in his joyful, free way, before politely giving the towel back to me.

I was remembering this moment when my phone buzzed with a text saying that my son’s “vital signs were being watched” because he’d had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine. No one could talk or give me information and though the occasional texts were much appreciated, I knew a great deal of anxiety waiting to have my questions answered.
 Was he suffering?
How bad off was he?
What was happening exactly?
How were they taking care of him?
What vaccine was it?
What was in the vaccine?
Why didn’t the doctor know that people with allergies should avoid this?

or using two pacifiers at once?

It is hard to be one step removed from the action though my heart is still in it. It’s hard to be away from loved ones when they are sick. It’s hard to be the one who waits for news, whose questions must hang in the air. I guess we all feel that way sometimes.

I’m sure toddlers feel that way. Not only are they the boss of very little, most of them don’t even know how to phrase the questions they do want to ask. Wait a minute, teenagers are that way, too. Wait another minute, who isn’t that way? Just a powerful few. The bosses of the world. No wonder they (meaning we ordinary humans) do weird things.

Eric was cared for at the allergist’s office and praise be to God, survived the severe reaction which the doctor labeled a “one in a million” sort of freak thing. Of course. Of course it was weird and unusual and freaky. However, that one in a million person having a one in a million sort of problem had an ordinary, typical sort of mother who had sat with him too many times before during just such awful reactions, a mother who was waiting at home to hear, knowing when they called to say he was okay then her most important question would be answered.

In my mind I can be as dramatic as the next person and I thought about driving over to the doctor’s just to properly interfere. But then I found that I actually felt a lot better after I ran around the house biting the hand towel, shaking my head and screaming in a muffled sort of way.
You should try it.
I’m serious.

It actually works.

the tell tale teeth marks

Maybe this poem by William Carlos Williams, the great American Imagist poet, can say it better than I can...
Danse Russe
IF when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,--
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,--
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I was thinking something similar the other day not 10 minutes after getting frustrated with my Children because it too My 4 yr old nearly a minute to ask for a glass of milk, and My 1 year old though he has quite a few words does not use most of them and just yells and fusses at me, I struggled to form a question to my husband about how we wanted to spend our upcoming anniversary. I justify my struggle in that it was an attempt to choose the right words, but really it is the same struggle in communication that my children have.

  3. Loris - I think my comment was misunderstood by at least one. Please delete. The poem struck me as so humorous in an introspective way after I so seriously read the article. I enjoyed the article's contemplations, and the mental picture conjured by the poem and a growing fear of falling as I age are why I posted it. - Lisa

  4. I've deleted the comment but only because you asked, Lisa. I understood that you were recalling the philosophical question... "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
    But thanks for reading and thinking and commenting. It means a lot to me.