Monday, January 16, 2012

Beyond our vision

Unicorns aren't real, you know, she says
not to challenge me and not to question and not to be daring with her assertion
just matter-of-fact, as she makes a play about fairies
who are very
very
real.
And I ask, "how can you be so sure?"
and she says just because I know
and I can see that she does
but not about the fairies
so I say only
"you might be right, but I think they still might be"
because maybe they are.

And she told me all weekend about
back of the bus and
You should fight with your heart, not with your fists
and attributed the quote to MarTHin LuTHer King
and I didn't correct her, because she was proud to know
but when she and her sister had trouble playing nicely because of too many little squabbles
I asked "are you fighting with your heart?" and they played nicely again.

L has this thing
when you give an instruction
(that she doesn't want to receive)
where she stares at you blankly
vacant
unblinking
and it's unnerving, waiting,
wondering
-did she hear me?
 or
-is she about to scream?
 and
-how loudly?
and exactly half the time she screams
(and flails)
and throws herself dramatically to the ground
(or bolts)
(always in public, that option)
and exactly half the time
she looks reproached,
and changes tactic.
And in four years of knowing her
the lovely husband and I, neither one of us
can read her when she does the thing
and we think
there's something we're not giving her
in word or warning or head's up: here comes change
but we don't know what it is and she won't tell us
because she's unblinking.

And the little one
he pulled the terrible twos out of his pocket
last month sometime, we think
though his birthday isn't until next month and if he starts early
he better damn well end early, we think
and we say to each other
"I can't do Two again"
and we sigh
because we will
even as he stomps and shrieks
and points to the thing and you give him the thing and he says No.
Mama. And I ask, "should I get it?" and he says, Yes. and I get it and he yells
No. and I ask "should you get it?" and he says NO! and I look at him
unblinking.
And he says Gee
which means, we think, "me" and also "G" and
he speaks of himself in the first-third person
we think.


On Friday a transformer blew
(outside)
and our house grew dark and cold
and we ditched all our Friday rituals
and took the kids to Noodles,
and brought pajamas
and stopped for flashlight batteries
and I bought electric tea lights,
red and shaped like hearts in the Valentine's aisle
and I handed each girl a heart and said
climb in my bed together, girls, so you'll be warm
and they fell asleep holding hearts and holding hands.
And the lovely husband and the tantrummy boy
fell asleep together
and they were warm
and I couldn't sleep,
remembering the last time we sat in a winter house without power
so I practiced my night photography and watched cold men
hoist a crane
on my quiet little street
and drop in a new transformer
to the magical underground.


I found a fork with the construction paper and
the vitamin bottle tenting up under the fitted bedsheet and
a child's toothbrush in my underwear drawer.
Which kid's, I couldn't tell you, because G chews on all three and
the girls, we think, just reach for the nearest brush because
what does it matter if your brother licked all three and stuffed one
in Mama's underwear drawer?

I gave a box of baby toys away
so big I could have laid all my babies
in it
(with a toothbrush).

Today we saw a movie
and yesterday I took E to a birthday party
while the lovely husband took L to a birthday party
while Terrible Two napped at home with a babysitter,
whom we paid so he could miss all the fun.

On Saturday E cried because she asked if someone that she knew was sick is dying
and I couldn't lie
I told her he died months ago, at the beginning of summer
and she asked if God takes care of all the souls,
even the ones not Jewish
and I said I think so, baby
there are things I don't know for sure but I think so

and she asked
like the unicorns?
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