Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Morning Rites

The boys are sleepy this morning, waving me off like an annoying gnat when I come to rouse them, Jacob quietly at six and Ethan more noisily at seven. In this, too, they are separate and unequal, and it saddens me, one more drop in the bucket of disconnection that sits on my chest, heavy.

Jacob is still growling at everything that displeases him and there is much that displeases him about mornings. I want him to get undressed and he wants to pet the cat. I want him to get dressed and he wants to pet the cat. I want him to eat breakfast and he wants to pet the cat.

Jake is mad about his underwear again, having outgrown the brand he has worn since he was four and toilet trained. "I want puppies, I want basketballs, I want orange!" he yells, hitting his body in protest as I pull the boring solid grey underpants up over his sizable hips. And so I make a mental note of something to add to today's already overflowing "to do" list: find boys size XXL or mens size small briefs in bright colors with fun pictures on them.

I wish we had the luxury of time in the mornings, to take a long snuggle on the sofa and pet the cat to Jake's hearts content. But he is up too early already. I can't set the clock back any further and his bus is now coming ten minutes sooner for no reason other than DOE regulations suddenly being enforced.

So the mornings are a non-stop nudge fest from me, nearly every interaction an iteration of "Hurry, Jake" or "NOW, Jake!" All the fun and sweetness poured out of it.

I resist the urge to growl at the bus myself, as I see it pulling round the corner, lights already flashing. A quick kiss on his cheek, with the matron impatiently waiting to whisk him away, must sustain me for the rest of the day.

Entering the apartment again, divesting myself of the down coat thrown on over pajamas, I survey the kitchen carnage, prepare for round two. Another breakfast, another lunch, another tired boy to shake loose from his dreams.

"Hug me, Mama!" Ethan demands as I lean over him pulling the warm blanket away, hoping the shock of cold will do what my hand lightly tousling his hair and my voice sing songing "Wakey, wakey, school time, babe..." could not.

He's in a good mood, dancing around the apartment peeling off his PJs, putting on his clothes. Which means, of course, that they are strewn throughout.

Checking his homework once more as I place it in the folder, put together his backpack (intone for the thousandth time that this really is HIS job) I notice a question skipped, so a pencil is hastily procured, math dipped into briefly and then his nose is back in his book.

Ethan is at the very, very, very end of the last book of the Harry Potter series and he just can't get done soon enough. Mysteries are being revealed; all those secrets he'd attempted to wheedle out of me for the past two months, and I'd blithely answered "Read the books you'll find out at the end" are finally within his grasp.

Watching him read and eat, curled up in the armchair as I bustle about packing up his lunch, picking up Jake's pajamas, I am struck again by how much he looks like me at that same age.

I take a mind's snapshot of him ("Zen photos" we used to call those in my family) knowing that soon he will lengthen, the angles of his face sharpen and a man will emerge from this boy-child.

But not quite yet.

He dons sneakers and jacket right on time, with nary a nag. Book stowed in backpack for reading at school, basketball retrieved and tucked under his arm, we set off.

Walking together down our quiet morning street, he gleefully dribbles the ball a bit, showing off his latest moves; then stops, slips his hand into mine.

"You're the best mother, ever." I try not to beam too much. "Well, for me that is. You wouldn't be a good mother for him." he adds, pointing to a dog being walked in our direction.

"And you're the son for me" I tell him, "You're the son for me."

Just Write

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