Limitless

Bunnyman, my 12 year old son, just loves school. His teacher starts talking and he mutes the video on his laptop, spreads a quilt on the kitchen floor, lays his head down, closes his eyes to catch up on sleep. His teacher continues teaching. It is a win-win-win because I sit nearby at the kitchen table drinking my morning coffee in the relative quiet taking notes for him thinking. I think about how to bring up his new school words and subject matter for later when he and I run errands and go to the grocery store and post office. Oh, look, I’ll say, to him when we stand in Produce, that lady looks like an archetypical mom buying an archetypical chicken. I wonder how many archetypical apples she needs for her two archetypical children if each child brings home four masked friends for a snack…(dicey work this math and me). Oh, Lord, Let there be a Lord. And if there is a Lord, Lord, speak to me in my love language and send me chocolates, a box of Kleenex and an empty UHaul with two strong masked men (of good humor) to help me clear my conscience for thinking ill of my rich neighbors with swimming pools that they’ve fixed with firehoses to soak their properties with the water (from their built-in sea water pools). Oh Lord, and please make me smarter. Make me not notice news so much and how these same my rich neighbors are so smart and parked large empty UHauls on our street to fill them with their house stuff in case there’s a fire evacuation order that comes down. Oh, Lord, I’ve done what I can, kept my kids safe (and extra calm) this week (extra credit please because we’ve even kind of gone to online school!). My Fortuny lamps in the living room will go the fastest. (Gold leaf on hand painted silk is like this). The oil paintings I painted over the last forty years will only feed a fire. The George Smith chairs and sofa in the old barn will be an amuse bouche for the fire (one for breakfast), my husband’s Spratling jug will be a silver cheesemelt. My young son’s teacher keeps on talking as he naps on, What’s the integer here? The teacher asks his class. I write the word integer down in my journal to work it into a conversation for later with my son and I will buy stamps at the post office. I’m stuck on the word integer now like how I’m stuck on all the extracurricular suffering these last months, kids in cages, BLM…hate worship, now come on! In the so-called richest country in the world? How does one measure riches, Lord? How can we pull together as a world? How to make people feel like they belong? Where is the deepest place, Lord? Is it our hearts? Maybe go ask Your father, God, Lord? Go ask Him/Her/They how we solve for basic decency and goodness? While your there, please ask Him how to solve for why?

Big as Life, Wife as Bold

Image

Every day, something bigger, 

this my thought, as my head and I lay on my pillow and I cast two lines between my hands, 

one for the what the hell pay it forward, do the next thing, just in case somebody’s listening, 

the other, for the ‘take one for the gipper,’

on the chin, family, I’m a giver life,

next guy gal up, my turn.  

An eek shadows between for later,

IDK why,

maybe a secret love,

for me, myself and I, for a life lived between what-fors,

for so much praying in in-breaths all these years,

for my having a fondness for mental athletics, for flashbacks, for remembering,

clouds clear, smoke clears, 

the screaming one will stop screaming,

an oasis minute just ahead in the ‘if-you-call-this-living’ living room,

where I remember how to spell,

consciousness is spelled with both big “C’s” and little “c’s,”

times I remember this too will pass,

someday when I will imagine missing the little “c” consciousnesses too, (this, in the moment middle of an “un,”)

life, too full of herself as big as she can get,

tomorrow she’ll want more,

times, she and I looking back pretty picturing ourselves, saying,

“Wasn’t life great then? See, life isn’t so hard after all?”  

Can you see me now mom?

Forward, backward, look no hands,

I’m a wisher from way back,

wishing for a lookie-see life,

no hands on the handlebars (where no one gets hurt),

wishing to hear once more, “See you later alligator,” kidding boomeranging ringtones as I pull away from the front lawn,

next day ready,

hands out, peacable,

a Walmart Greeter,

doing what big people, greeting life, moving on do,

greeting her big as life, wife as bold,

singing, see Mom, no hands.

 

 

How To Make a U Turn

Today, on a hike, I decide to make my bed only on major holidays.  Awesomeness.  I then give myself a virtual star, pat on my back, for a job well-done, being solution minded, proactive, and out exercising with my six-year-old son as he runs ahead of me yelling at the mountain, the day, the path.

Today I am ahead, even thinking ahead, all points for me.

In wonder mode, I wonder how I could have forgotten my son’s meds yesterday, chastise myself about something I cannot afford — forgetting.  How forgetting sets off a sequence of awfulness.

Awfulizing anquishifications.  AaaaAAAAAAgghghgh!!!

I employ the only tool I have, try the “U” turn one.  The begin again one.  The one I learned from my son, his summer “camp” last summer.

“Try again.  Do over,” the teacher said at some behavior aberration.

Yesterday, as a result of his no medication midday, when I picked him up from school, he hit me flat palmed across my face while we sat in my car making plans.  I reached for consciousness, for that lovely responsive mother I want to be.  I found the glovebox empty.

A difficult moment, these, managing him in upsets, helping him transitioning from school to the next thing.  Me too.  Changing course, beginning anew, U-turn ones.  Even to remember I have tools, much less the finding of them, the ‘finding my breath,’ the counting up or down ones, practicing to get it in his practice, his toolbox, concepts he learns in therapy, I put in mine.  Some all but lost to me at crystal moments.

While he exploded, we sat in the car, my son screeching behind me.  I sat pointing at his car seat behind me, for him to return to it.  A sculpture holding the steering wheel with my other hand as my son twisted in his flailing lash-outs.  A regular front lawn Remington Mom fixed for time, something the world needs more of, bronze mothers, chilling.

Later, in a sensory seeking moment, his meds running low, he ran down the house hall crashing his right hand through a bedroom door window.  Needing something to pound, might as well be the glass.

How lucky he was not to have gotten hurt.  More, how lucky I was.

“Go get the broom,” I said.

Drama sucks.  And how it must suck to be caught in his dragon fire skin.  This, how I imagine my son must feel.  It sucks breath on my side too.

How, at his age, his can only mind himself in small degrees.  His caregivers — mother, father, brother, teacher, therapists — “outside brain.”  How he so wants to be in control, I do too.  Or, else the fears set in.  His and mine.  He just tips into survival mode.  Speeding to high, tipping to panic, almost unreachable for soothing.

Days I wonder how many meds, behaviorists, diet, exercise reiterations, new BFF-music-action-hero-mindful kite therapies must I throw at our tiny boy?

His autism lays me low.  Lays him lower.  Exhausted, I cannot unplug forever in a spa.  Today as good as any day to discover the almighty U-turn, begin again minute, the next minute one.

A day in a minute, I come to believe life, the work of God and His arsenal of earth workers, saint-sinner, angel-sentient beings, goodwill ambassadors, universe teachers, earth or heaven-bound, good triers, all supporting us.

A madness not to be in control of one’s self.

Today I feel his pain, hold tight on the wheel.  Form a triangle with my hands.  Grip thumbs on my wheel.  I do not say a thing, tell myself, to hang in one minute longer, re-frame life, fold up my hope tent, give-it-over, give-it-up to angels.

Soon enough some kind of grace comes, a low interest loan helping me keep my head as a special needs parent.  There will be many assumptions to untie by nightfall.

Some days the old adages seem best.  Tie, un-tie, re-tie, rather, than cut something out of the garden.   Do nothing, sit out the storm, sayings.

Times maybe I shouldn’t negotiate with Mr. Takeover but still I do, like today, when I said, “Let’s go for a hike.”

This pleased him to no end, “Okay!”

Play’s, the thing.  A language that does not come easy to my son or myself.  A hierarchy of play missed kids like mine.

Last summer we played according to plan.  Therapist-directed play that started with him as a lone player with his preferred toy, trains.  He played as if the two were one.  The goal, to progress up a play scale as neurotypical kids do.  Toy as agent-object, outside of the child, toward empathy.  Players playing, with other players, giving, taking, adding, sharing ideas folding, expanding, accepting.

A whole UN in a sandbox.  Peace has a taste somewhere between butter and fruit.

Our days of playing trains on the tracks started simple, we added buildings, airports, pirate ships, bridges, dinosaurs.

Moving up the play scale when we coupled our play with dolls — jumping in and out of the ‘doll as agent’ box — with our engineers, passengers, conductors, construction workers.  Change-ups my son allowed, affecting his senses  — boundaries — easing somewhat with peers,’ let downs improving with his flexible thinking.   His asking me to borrow a toy, a huge leap.  Rebounding, through failure key to games, sports, team, classwork, life.

What a strange country each day. His ‘visa’ not allowing us access to each other’s borders, language, ideas, much less moving along with other travelers, affecting his learning of social mores, ABCs, and numbers.

Kindergarten hard.

20140414-215910.jpg

Hawk

Image

Finch, crow, deer, hawk! Hawk! Hawk! Hawk!  

On a low branch of an ancient — an eight trunked oak —  I sit under a cave of branches.  More, a giant bouquet, granite boulders beneath it. My big hiking boots in the thick brown mulch.  Sounds of civilization are finding the canyon — the grey panther — agenda types on their brisk walks; Latinas in sausage casings, leggings, tummies and breasts under one big curved zipped blur, their peach dogs hunched, refusing to walk one inch further into the wilds. Expert hikers, gone already, hours ago.  And others — spectator-walkers, nature lovers palming sage with the summer trainees and me.

People with backpacks and music piping through their ears passing chatty bun girls, twenty-somethings, doing what girls do these days with too much Rapunzel on their heads — their hair — landed drones or big, beefsteak briskets – hair stuffed with who knows what – listening devices? Teddy bear parts?   Puffed hair covered over with more hair, held in place with a single stretchy hairband. The leaf turners behind them, AA folks next, walking at a labyrinth pace who seem to have all day, some, as big as parade balloons, striking the path like everyone else, one step at a time.

Days I love them all, but today, I want to be invisible. Fly ‘there,’ wherever there is, like a hawk, do my hawk business, but not think so much, not think about how better it might be to be an eagle, crow how better to be a tiny yellow bush house finch diving in and out of brush like the ones I let go off my front porch years ago. A day when a fist full of flutter became more itself. Let birds be birds, skip the cage. Ah, to be a red tailed hawk, have dinner for breakfast, not worry about stuff, the nest, clocks, kids, the man.

Hold On World

Image

Hold on, don’t jump, slow down world, let me brush your wild hair, let me brush your teeth, let me gag you so I can skid the house, the world quiet.

A knot of candy hair hit, and off he soars, reeling.

What was between hands now all run away.

The whole world foaming at the mouth, unkempt, unclean, half-dressed, half-naked, in knots.

My own tiny world too dammed up, too damned behind thin skin, thin heart membranes, too thin protections.

Ahhhh, I sigh, I weep, for him, for her, for Boston, for the ache within, for the lost souls, for our innocence ebbing,

Ahhhh, I breath, ohmming for the unfeeling, ohmming for the feeling too much, ohmming for the breaking inside, for the too much that got’s a hold of the world at the minute, a hold on me.

Wait for me world, wait one minute more,

hold me world, hold on lover world, hold on lover boy, lover world, hold on and wait, wait, wait, hold on with me,

and I will hold you too.

It gets better, got to get better, wait with me world, and let’s just breathe.

Breathe an I’m-not-done-yet-breath, a-neither-are-you-breath, neither of us licked,

holding on together breathing, each of us warming the air between us,

holding on, lighting candles, breathing, holding, waiting.

Coin Toss

Teen announcer calls out, Final swim event. Coin toss, he says. All children who are seven or older please go to the shallow end of the pool.

The kiddie pool spills nakedness.  Kids who are not yet seven fall over three-year-olds.  Childhood shakes off itself.  The big pool fills with sharp shooters.  Wall Street.  We are far behind, not sure what a coin toss really is.  Stand on the margins.  Main Street.

Announcer says, participants, please sit on the edge of the pool, legs over the side, no false starts, no accidentally falling in, no using swim caps as baggies.  Or else.  You’re out.  

We are game.  At the bottom of the pool a treasure chest glitters silver and copper.

Don’t go in yet, I tell my son S. 

Sit down S., a lifeguard who knows him calls.

Now?  Should I jump in now?  My four-year-old son calls back to her.

Not yet, wait for the horn to sound, I tell him.

Guards, get in the pool, the announcer says, every lane needs a guard, someone on deck.  Kids, I want you to swim away from the other kids, no pushing anyone down.

A blare and burst of koi.  Tan, fair, brown kid fish go over the falls.  A simultaneous slingshot release twists into the shallow end of the water.

I yell to the guard.  Is he holding that girl down in the pool?  Guard, can you get him off of her?  She’s been down there a while. 

My tender son is focused on one thing I think he knows nothing about.  A talk we have yet to have. 

He knows enough.  That a penny lays under his foot.

They’re okay, guard says.  Kids are good.  The guard’s eyes never leave the lane.

Five minutes of life or death palm sweat on deck for what?  For clinking piles of change? 

No.  A penny.  Six dives become seven.  I count eight.

One happy man child payday penny later, my son’s hand held high, he says,  Is it over? 

Yes, I say. Let’s get out.

Here, Mom, my son says, giving me his coin.  This is for you.

I open my hand to the flash of a Lincoln.  My son and I, we are still Main Street. (c) M K Smyth 2012

Judge Not

So far things are going fair at today’s church fair.  Saturday’s October Fall Fest Fair I mean.

By eleven fifty I paint two butterflies, two ladybugs, a few ghosts while I nurse my coffee, a big invisible sign over my head reads:  ‘Enter At Your Own Risk.’

A toddler waddles over, asks for only knives and skeleton tattoos.  I comply.  Hope kids are not too particular with my attempts with stub crayon details.  Hate painting their superfine skin.  Ask them not to wiggle so much.  From one Botticelli I take four tickets for a greased cherry and purple flower.

Another comes in, switches me up.  Just the hair, she says.  Hot pink.

Okay, okay, I can do this, I tell myself.  Suit up, put a paper towel over her eyes.  A glow cloud sprays in her direction.  Hangs over the both of us.  Weather conditions prevail.  It goes everywhere.  Splatters mostly on the chair where she sits, drips across her thin trash bag apron.

How much are we both breathing of this quality air?

Still I cannot get her hair to turn vivid pink.  More a fade of sheer.  I keep spraying until I get a splotch over her forehead.  A widower’s ‘dot,’ fuchsia.  Hand the kid the mirror.  She thanks me sweetly, hands me her four tickets.

Keep the tickets, I say, feeling a twinge, I’m just tuning up.

Ten minutes later, shift over, booth manager arrives from her son’s soccer game to take charge.  Thanks me profusely for doing nothing.  Your welcome, I say.  Hand her my clean apron. Watch the booth from afar for the rest of the day.  See the boss go to work.  Spread her flat bristle tip tools of the church carnival trade across the table.  Plastic gloves, baby wipes, alcohol, make-up assorteds, face paint, pirate press on tattoos – large, small – roses, ribbons, candy designs, photocopy examples for make-up counter consults.

Then, she takes out her line of hair products.

Super gooey epoxy stuff from the black depths in her purse.  Comic color neon hairsprays, hair waxes, that will take weeks to wash from baby hair.  Ones teachers will write notes home over all week.

‘Maestra Capelli.’  Spaghetti hair meets its match.  A hair contortionist.

Hair that should not stand up, goes ridge pole in her hands.

In an hour flat, the church parking lot fills with rainbow punks, flare freaks, Goths.  Lines wrap the Gathering Tree from where I sit to watch the scene where I take notes with my colleagues, other off-duty types in the ‘volunteer breakroom,’ a place where we parents do double duty, where everyone’s a winner, sales always brisk.  We sit back and peel yet more tickets for our kids, greenback answers to young and old.

Do our prayers.  Where all is forgiven.

‘Done,’ or not, we are unjudged in the pop-up chapel for the fallen away.  The Beer Tent. (c) MK Smyth 2012

Mums the Word

Mom says, ‘’Ulbefine,’ or ‘Wheelbefinenowgit.’  Or variations on this idea. Places I hope to soon live.  Words uttered by Mom the minute I start to tug at her dress when I fret and cry.  Places I cannot find on the shrill green globe I take from the shelf off Daddy’s oak roll top desk.  The one Mommy calls an eyesore blizzard before she slams the tambor top with a thud.

My eight-year-old index finger runs over crease mountains Daddy calls Ghana and Poughkeepsie.  Where my aunts, Dad’s sisters live.  My hands and eyes travel in return traces, until my head tells me I must have the wrong map.  With another rattle spin, I pick the globe up and carry it into the kitchen.  My face full of water and ooze, I find Mommy at the sink, beg her to look at me.

“You’re going to be fine,” she says wiping her hands on her dress’ front as she moves to the table.

I am not so sure she is so sure.

“Show me where,”  I say pushing the globe into her, my fingers on the red gloss buttons of her dress.  Thick cucumber slices that run up and down the front of the yardstick print of her dress.

She sets the globe on the table, sits down, takes a ‘Superstiff’ hair pomade stick from her pocket and pulls my seven-year-old brother Andrew from the floor to stand between her knees.  Two short swipes later, a week’s worth of boy hair is pushed to the side of my brother’s head, his bangs stiff peaks above his freckled forehead. He does not mind his church hair today.

Mom has her good loafers on, the mahogany ones, a good luck cent in each penny spot.  Days on end I watch Mr. Lincoln go about his business with Mom between rooms winking honest copper at me.  I bide my time in waits between fills, when the shoe pair wait in Mom’s closet.  Like Mommy, Mr. Lincoln is a hard worker, one who does not gather dust.

He pays me no mind.

Day comes, Mr. Lincoln and his twin safe in my pocket, I look to the ceiling at a float question.  I will wait, then buy myself a piece of Bazooka Bubblegum from The Associated Grocers like the piece already in my skirt pocket bought for waving in front of my younger brothers or sister to keep their attention.  Gum is not for chewing.

Besides, I have a plan to go somewhere more important today.

I am going to ‘Befine.’

Mommy and me.  Together or alone.  Still in the kitchen with Mom. Between dry sniffs I tell her my plan.

“I am ready to be fine.  When will we go?  When will it be time?”

Confused, Mom says, “What?” She, squint looking at me.  “Church first young lady, that will be enough for today.”

She brushes past me into the living room to stand at the bottom of the stairs.  There, her frosted head tilts back, soft as powder cheeks, through pink lips razor words fly up the stairs.

“Bernadette Mary I called you down here once already.  Whatever it is you are doing stop this instant.  Come downstairs.  Do not make me come up there in person.”

I no longer think we will go anywhere.  ‘Ulbefine’ anyway, water wells my eyes, followed by a new round of moans.

My brothers and sisters on the ‘company’ sofa sit in a ‘finish line,’ next to the ‘almost finish line.’  Where they watch a stop-motion TV clay family, ‘Gumby’ solve putty problems.

My brothers, ready for church in Sears’ Permapress plaid shirts tucked into starched white shorts, my sisters, two in ‘Deb ‘n’ Heir’ blue seersucker skirts with crisp white Peter Pans, Sharon, too old, in a facsimile.

Keds all around.

 

(c) M K Smyth

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.