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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do we not Bleed?

The great thing about growing up is that life becomes so much more calm, relatively speaking. The bad thing about growing up is that the cues become more subtle, or at least they are for complacent, half witted parents, such as myself. Both the boys have gradually acquired a wide variety of coping mechanisms which they’re able to access more frequently these days. Since their outward behaviour is more conformist, I’m apt to forget that it’s still all there, just a scratch beneath the surface. Luckily for me, a little reminder here and there helps keep me grounded.

The reminder arrives in the morning, early, never my best time of the day, during the heavily sequenced morning routine. Amid copious prompts, we wend our way towards readiness for the school bus.

The boys are draped over their cereal bowls at the table, munching, wordless. Everyone has demands and needs whether they’re able to voice them or not and I have a tendency to focus on the squeaky wheel. Whilst the squeaky wheel is entirely capable of making her own breakfast, this morning, she’s more squeaky than usual:-

“Where’s the bacon you said you’d save for me?”
“In the fridge dear.”
“Can I have it for breakfast?”
“I thought you wanted to save it for a sandwich?”
“Please, please, please can I have it now?”
I hear a mutter of dissent from other quarters, “oh come on! You’re needs, you’re needs, you’re needs.” Part of the conversation and yet not, at the same time.
“Sure. Help yourself.”
“I can’t find it.”
“I labeled it for you. Have another look. It has a yellow post-it attached.”
“Right there. In the door.”
“There on the stair! Where on the stair? Right there! A little mouse with clogs on….
“It’s not here. I’m gonna starve to death.”
Dem bones, dem bones, dem …..dry bones.”
“Here…………there you go.”
“It will be tastier if you zap it for a couple of seconds.”
“How long?”
“Start with 10 seconds…..nope, leave it in the bag or it will explode all over the microwave.”
"T.N.T. it's dynamite!"
“Ooo look at it crackle, yum!”
“Hurry up dear, look at the clock!” I urge as he hear my son muttering, “time is money, time is money, time is money,” to his nearly empty cereal bowl.

Miss Squeaky moves to the table with relish as one brother leaves. One down, two to go. The remainder, the smallest brother, turns his back on us and the table with a breathy gasp in one smooth movement, not easy when you’re hunkered down on a carver chair. His head sinks low down into his shoulders until he has no neck, elbows closed in tight like a bird settling it’s wings, compact and silent. I step nearer because he’s either stopped breathing entirely or holding his breath. I slip round to his front side to see his fluttering eye lids as he appears to be about to pass out, woozy with little electric shudders. “Breathe love! Are you alright?”
“Agh!” is all he can manage as he springs over the arm of the chair, hits the floor and rolls into a corner where he pants in recovery mode. Rarely, if ever, has there been a more finely executed example of escapism as he lies on the floorboards gasping like a recently landed fish.
“Are you feeling better lovie?”
“Better…..but I’ll be betterer when I am …….awayer.”
“Away where?”
“Awayer from dah dead meat stink.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blood Hounds

I dry my hands carefully so I can put a fresh plaster on my finger, post washing up and then nip upstairs to bed down the smalls. I whip up the ladder to start with the smallest one on the top bunk.
“Night, night luvvy.”
“What’s the matter dear?”
“Dat is dah worstest.”
“What is?”
“Dat smell?”
“Hmm sorry about that. I was a bit heavy handed with the garlic tonight.”
“Not food smell.”
“Which smell?”
“Yur finger stinks.”
“My finger?”
“Dah one wiv dah band aid.”
“Can’t, I’ve only just washed them. Is it the soap? Doesn’t smell much too me.”
“No dah blood.”
“You can smell the blood?”
“Yes it is being still wet.”
“So if it was dry you wouldn’t be able to smell it?”
“Scabs smell differenter.”
“Do they indeed?”
“But wet blood smells strongest and yours is badest?”
“Other people’s blood smells ……er…….nice?”
“My blood smells nice.”
“What does my blood smell of that’s not nice?”
“Too much…….. metal.”
“What does your blood smell of?”
“And…..more of…… salt.”
“Does everyone’s blood smell differently?”
“I think you’ve missed your calling as a tracker dog.”
“Tracker cat!”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

All Systems Go – Cruise control

We’ve always had problems with green, for as long as I can remember. Such a simple word that can be described in so many or few; a secondary colour, mix blue and yellow, use different proportions of each primary colour to produce different shades. But still those five letters elude him.

It’s a little bit like when I try to remember something myself, some every day kind of a thing, like a film star’s name. I can see the boyish face, now morphed into middle age, it’s an easy name, I can see the roles he’s played but the name, that ever so average name is buried under pile of mis-filed ‘to do’ lists and a heap of other detritus. An irritating nebulous nameIt’s on the tip of my tongue but hides behind a stack of unread book spines. It is not until later, at night when the chains fall off my brain and suddenly up it pops as I sit bolt upright, Tom Cruise! But there’s no-one to listen, no-one to pat me on the back, tap me on the cranium and say, ‘there you go, back to sleep now.’

Now that he’s older he can sometimes retrieve it, green, on command, but more often than not, he can’t, so we use alternatives. Emerald is always first on the list, a starter, a favourite, and from that point on the colour wheel we can go left or right, up or down, carefully narrowing down the choices because we must be accurate because accuracy is very important and those subtle shades are calibrated with precision, hues enhanced, narrowly tailored.
“That’s too dark.”
“What about that one?”
“What about this one?”
“I think that it. How you say it?”
“Um…I’m not sure of the pronunciation….er…. Chrysoberyl……I think?”
“Got it!” he hares off, shouting to the other players, “hey guys! It’s called Chrysoberyl.”

Well that slips off the tongue like extract of malt but it’s nice to know that he’s not red/green blind, like my dad.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Where oh where?

Sometimes these things creep up on you when you least expect them. This one runs at me, bowls me over and catches me out on a day when we’re running behind schedule, loudly drowning in the minutiae of the early morning schedule, the one designed to have everyone ready for school on time, although we are rarely truly successful. It’s always an approximation of harried, as no-one around here will be hurried. The minutes tick by as we fall further and further behind, flustered and frustrated, just for a change. By the time he comes downstairs for the umpteenth time in a state of bewilderment, I know that we need to take a few steps back as I’m expecting too much too soon, as there are too many distractions to ever achieve task completion unaided. “Come on, up we go, let’s go and get you dressed.”
He looks at his own body, still clad in pyjamas, surprised that they are still there, that the visit upstairs didn’t transform him Clark Kent style into his school clothes without effort, and some days everything is an effort.

In the bedroom he stares at the contents of the wardrobe as he begins his debate. I’m so tempted to choose for him but that will only stall progress. I mentally hop from one foot to the other rather than physically, as that would also be a distraction. Eventually he reaches for a pair of trousers, plops to the floor and starts to insert one foot, “just a minute dear.”
“Haven’t you forgotten something…..look.” He looks but brightly coloured pyjamas are not that dissimilar from brightly coloured underwear, “you need to take your pyjamas off first.”
“Oh yeah,” he wrenches them off and holds them bunched in his hands uncertain what to do next. It occurs to me that it is uncommon for pyjamas to remain on his body for very long, either because they are surplus to requirements for the majority of the time or because they are no longer wearable for a wide variety of reasons, They never make to a second night. “Wot I do wiv dem?” he asks as he shoves them towards the center of my body as my hands are by my sides, but I can still feel them through my shirt, “they’re still warm,” I comment to myself, as much as to him, “and they’re ……..dry!”
“So? Wot I do?”
“I think perhaps……” what do you do with cleanish dry, nightwear? I have no idea. What does one do with pyjamas after one night, lightly used with only the odd dead skin cell on board? What is the norm? Clean pyjamas every night is the norm around here, sometimes several times a night but what do other people do? Is it permissible to wear them more than once? Is there some chance that this late in the day I might redeem myself before Mother Nature and resist this small addition to the ever burgeoning laundry pile? Is this the shape of the future? Is there any possibility, no matter how slight, that some time soon we might just reduce the deluge to two or three loads a day?

There must be some easy solution but it’s been several years, many years. I have some vague recollection back through the mists of time, what did they used to call that thing……a pyjama case! But of course we don’t have one, what would be have one for? Pyjamas are on the body, in the wash or very briefly in the cupboard, clean. There are no other options but we need to mark the occasion, this novel outcome, this once in a life time step forward. “I know………how about you put them under your pillow and then you can use them again tonight!”
“The pillow?” His tone is one of amazement.
“Under?” Mystified.
“Because…….isn’t that what you do with them?” He gives me the look, the one we reserve for people with very small brains when trying to be kind, no matter how daft the suggestion, “o.k. Mom. There yah go. They’ll be all safe for yah now.” I watch him pat the pillow affectionately with a very strange, amused and vaguely patronizing expression on his face, before he whispers, “it’s o.k. Mom…… ……I’ll keep yur lil secret.”

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