Sunday, December 30, 2007

Because My Four Year Old Screamed All Day


Merrick had what might chalk up to be the worst day of his childhood. He flailed and wailed much of the afternoon because he didn't want to go sledding and most importantly, he didn't anyone to go sledding -- as in big brother and sister.

He wept over Leggos, pouted about the dog.

Now he's screaming "You hate me" because we are punishing him for saying "fatty ass." Actually, he's in his room for multiple violations, a penchant for the phrase.

I see those raised eyebrows.

This is a child who has two clever, significantly older siblings. They prime this fresh meat, toss him chunks of trouble. His issues with language are someone else's vice.

On the way home from dinner, when Stryker realized he had just 24 hours to start loudly, bitterly complaining about our New Year's Eve plans, he dove right in, quick, to get going.

Scarlett cried in the van too, because the boys were making so much noise.

Oh--and my perfect brother (you can't even imagine, but a teaser --he knows Air Force One, international intrigue, has communed with President and Power and that is the tiniest tip of the ice berg because he is actually a wonderful, kind man--who exhibits photography in New York galleries in his spare time--which makes jealousy solidly one's own special issue) and his son were in town, visiting us for dinner. My brother's four year old said "no, thank you" and pulled out chairs for the ladies, while Merrick whined and spilled orange juice.

At moments like this (and Merrick indeed, at this very moment, in his room with Loud Protest), this is what I do, instead of screaming, drinking (I will do this later) or walking out that door.

I read this:

Looking at Them Asleep

When I come home late at night and go in to kiss the children,
I see my girl with her arm curled around her head,
her face deep in unconsciousness--so
deeply centered is she in her dark self,
her mouth slightly puffed like one sated but
slightly pouted like one who hasn't had enough,
her eyes so closed you would think they have rolled the
iris around to face the back of her head,
the eyeball marble-naked under that
thick satisfied desiring lid,
she lies on her back in abandon and sealed completion,
and the son in his room, oh the son he is sideways in his bed,
one knee up as if he is climbing
sharp stairs up into the night,
and under his thin quivering eyelids you
know his eyes are wide open and
staring and glazed, the blue in them so
anxious and crystallly in all this darkness, and his
mouth is open, he is breathing hard from the climb
and panting a bit, his brow curved,
his hand open, and in the center of each hand
the dry dirty boyish palm
resting like a cookie. I look at him in his
quest, the thin muscles of his arms
passionate and tense, I look at her with her
face the face of a snake who has swallowed a deer,
content, content--and I know if I wake her she'll
smile and turn her face toward me though
half asleep and open her eyes and I
know if I wake him he'll jerk and say Don't and sit
up and stare about him in blue
unrecognition, oh my Lord how I
know these two. When love comes to me and says
What do you know, I say This girl, this boy.

Sharon Olds
The Gold Cell, Knopf 1995


Mrs. G. said...

Sharon Olds is my favorite contemporary poet. I LOVE HER! Have you read the poem (it might be in this same collection) about her son riding off in the bus to camp? Beautiful.

Also, the poem about the photograph of her mother and father makes my gut wrench every time I read it.

So, yeah, read the poem for solace and then pour yourself a stiff martini and call it a night. My oldest used to stroke out if we did not cut her waffles along the grid.

Nora Bee said...

Hi! I love your description of your (terrible) day. It felt like I had been there myself! Hope your little guy is feeling better tomorrow...

Mary said...

I have had my stiff drink and am slogging off to bed. But, yes, I know the poems, Mrs. G. Sharon Olds is my Rock Star. The camp bus poem holds its own place in the Universe and the poems about her father make mine a near-saint.

Here's to tomorrow.

Jodi said...

I'm so glad it's not just me that has days like this.

Thanks for your comment on Jodifur.

Another Mary said...

So beautiful - I see this poem in my life... and feel the same way.

Beth said...

My youngest son's frequent wail used to be, "The brothers are bothering me!"
He's now taller than either of those guys. Revenge is sweet, although it was a long time coming...

Lovely poem.

Happy New Year!

Patti said...

I love the contrast between the poem and your account of the day. I, too have had days just like this!