The boys sit on books because the new table is too high. Or, the old chairs are too low. We haven’t decided which of the two is the problem, perhaps it’s a combination of both, but the end result is that when it’s time to eat, Mikey sits on A History of Art and Nicholas, Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.
At first I thought it was charming, the sight of two small boys perched on thousands of pages. Then the jackets started to fray. A spine weakened. I grumbled to the Mister that they were ruining the books, that we needed proper boosters, that it was just our luck that we gave away the boosters we had before the boys sat at the new table with our old chairs. The Mister had his own opinions.
He said they were just books. I gasped. He pointed out they were getting more use now than they ever did on the shelf. I rolled my eyes. He wooed me with logic, stating it was only temporary, and that the boys would be grown up and out of boosters before we knew it. In the interest of being brief, I can paraphrase my response thusly: not. helping.
In the end, the Mister won. Not because the boys are growing up, that was the ramblings of a lunatic, but because it did seem silly to buy boosters again, especially when they are so ugly. Besides, the books were already showing wear and the jackets long destroyed. A little more abuse wouldn’t make them look much worse, which is funny, because that’s kind of how I feel about myself right now.
It’s rare, but I do get into funks, and right now I am in a funk. I’m doing a combination 4 and 40 birthday party for Nicholas and the Mister and have little money to pull it together. Maybe I’m nervous it will be a flop. I’m making everything from the decorations to the cake, so it’s reasonable to feel some pressure. I’m not making as much as I would like with my blog, not as much as others with the same or less traffic. Maybe I am frustrated at the ways things are going, maybe I am frustrated that at the heart of it all, I’m not good at selling myself the way others do. I’m angry that I’ve gained back some of my weight. Maybe I’m scared I will never get to where I want to be.
It’s a lot of maybes, and they have me short tempered and frazzled. A week ago Thursday, when the Mister was still out of town and I was scrambling to find their shoes so we could get to school on time, I yelled at the boys in frustration and made Nicholas cry. I felt terrible. I called my mom. I called my best friend. If I had his number, I would have called my priest. On my way out of preschool drop off, I bumped into my friend, Viola, and confessed I was the worst mother in the world. She laughed and rolled her eyes. “I yell at my kids all the time. Take them to McDonald’s for dinner.” I did, and they thought it was magical. I still felt like the wicked witch of west, so I guess dark magic was involved.
This week, more of the same. “How can you lose a toothbrush?!” “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to do your homework!” “By God, if these Bakugans aren’t picked up in ten minutes I’m throwing them in the trash!” And so on, and so on.
On Wednesday, I was trying to vacuum under the table. Heave, drop, smack. I lifted A History of Art and Webster’s unabridged dictionary onto the table and moved the chairs out of the way. Mikey fiddled with the cover of “his” book while I sorted his school folder and give him his homework assignments. The phone rang in the kitchen. A parting instruction before I left: do your homework, no dawdling. I chatted on the phone briefly. I started dinner. I forgot to vacuum. I remembered, and came back out to the dining room.
No Mikey, no homework. I stomped into the toy room ready to give a scolding, insolence the red flag to my raging bull. He didn’t even hear me coming, which was amazing since I had already squawked out “What are you doing…” before I rounded the corner. Instead, he was nose deep in A History of Art, slowly but valiantly reading a paragraph on Mannerism and 16th century Italian art. More shame for me and then, a moment of grace. “Mikey,” I said. “Screw the homework.”
We flipped through the book and looked at all the pictures. He loved the more realistic paintings, especially those depicting famous battles, of course. For every religious painting there was a tiny finger pointing, a firm shake of the head, and a declaration. “That has to be Saint Michael, mom. I’m sure of it.” And then, a while later, “Mom, I think art is really, really interesting.”
For dinner we ate leftovers. I didn’t say a word when Mikey flew through his homework with the handwriting of a serial killer. I was still in the afterglow of the afternoon, happy that the Mister was right. Those books are getting much more use than they ever would on the shelf.