There are days when I can’t do this. When I can’t keep the steam from hissing out both ears in stifled frustration. Days when I don’t understand how my son doesn’t understand. Days with the patience of lighted dynamite, when the two of us sit there, sharing a piano bench, me on the left, with my finger on the music, he on the right, staring at quarter notes in the treble clef and forgetting for the every-eth time which hand should be playing and which note is middle C.
We are also side-by-side in brown chairs, shuffling through word cards and vowel sounds while he yawns and rolls his fists over his eyes. He wants to know when we’ll be done. Wants to know exactly when freedom begins. Wants to invert a paper clip, erase the table with his pencil’s barely-there eraser, blow the eraser pieces onto the floor, reach for the tape, put his bare, boy toes on the table’s edge and balance back on two chair legs. And I just want him to read the cards. To clap the syllables. To love how easy reading is. And so I remove a paperclip, hold my hand out for the pencil, drag the tape from this end to that end, frown over toes on the edge and talk adult about chair legs.
And we’re both miserable. So sickeningly miserable.
He wipes his tears for the fourth time before lunch. And I shake my head because…because it all feels so pitiful.
“God help us,” we plead.
Our afternoon is smothered in clouds–leftover rain clouds against the painted sky. And yet the light comes through. Streaks of hope penetrating hopelessness.
It is hardly November and still Christmas tree lights stretch through a cardboard box fort. The portable cd player carols “Silent Night,” as my boy hums along. Abandoned trains tracks figure-eight at the front door. And peace, as it were, settles down from above like dew.
I call for my boy’s help in filling a pot with the water from the fridge door. And speedy-quick like, Road-runner, he appears, fiddles with two stools and is gone again.
Now he calls to me to see his box…And he points as I gawk at it there suspended in mid-hallway, I do not understand how there is a rope and a pulley from up there to down here.
And I realize….realize deep in my chest that my wide-eyed son will not explain his pulley, demonstrate his rope, or transport his box from upstairs to down with a tone of frustration. He will not be disgusted by my mild interest. He will not try to correct the way I look at his box or the way I pull the rope myself. He only wants me to see him. To really see him. And to love what I see.