The great thing about growing up is that life becomes so much more calm, relatively speaking. The bad thing about growing up is that the cues become more subtle, or at least they are for complacent, half witted parents, such as myself. Both the boys have gradually acquired a wide variety of coping mechanisms which they’re able to access more frequently these days. Since their outward behaviour is more conformist, I’m apt to forget that it’s still all there, just a scratch beneath the surface. Luckily for me, a little reminder here and there helps keep me grounded.
The reminder arrives in the morning, early, never my best time of the day, during the heavily sequenced morning routine. Amid copious prompts, we wend our way towards readiness for the school bus.
The boys are draped over their cereal bowls at the table, munching, wordless. Everyone has demands and needs whether they’re able to voice them or not and I have a tendency to focus on the squeaky wheel. Whilst the squeaky wheel is entirely capable of making her own breakfast, this morning, she’s more squeaky than usual:-
“Where’s the bacon you said you’d save for me?”
“In the fridge dear.”
“Can I have it for breakfast?”
“I thought you wanted to save it for a sandwich?”
“Please, please, please can I have it now?”
I hear a mutter of dissent from other quarters, “oh come on! You’re needs, you’re needs, you’re needs.” Part of the conversation and yet not, at the same time.
“Sure. Help yourself.”
“I can’t find it.”
“I labeled it for you. Have another look. It has a yellow post-it attached.”
“Right there. In the door.”
“There on the stair! Where on the stair? Right there! A little mouse with clogs on….”
“It’s not here. I’m gonna starve to death.”
“Dem bones, dem bones, dem …..dry bones.”
“Here…………there you go.”
“It will be tastier if you zap it for a couple of seconds.”
“Start with 10 seconds…..nope, leave it in the bag or it will explode all over the microwave.”
“T.N.T. it’s dynamite!”
“Ooo look at it crackle, yum!”
“Hurry up dear, look at the clock!” I urge as he hear my son muttering, “time is money, time is money, time is money,” to his nearly empty cereal bowl.
Miss Squeaky moves to the table with relish as one brother leaves.
One down, two to go.
The remainder, the smallest brother, turns his back on us and the table with a breathy gasp in one smooth movement, not easy when you’re hunkered down on a carver chair. His head sinks low down into his shoulders until he has no neck, elbows closed in tight like a bird settling it’s wings, compact and silent. I step nearer because he’s either stopped breathing entirely or holding his breath. I slip round to his front side to see his fluttering eye lids as he appears to be about to pass out, woozy with little electric shudders. “Breathe love! Are you alright?”
“Agh!” is all he can manage as he springs over the arm of the chair, hits the floor and rolls into a corner where he pants in recovery mode. Rarely, if ever, has there been a more finely executed example of escapism as he lies on the floorboards gasping like a recently landed fish.
“Are you feeling better lovie?”
“Better…..but I’ll be betterer when I am …….awayer.”
“Awayer from dah dead meat stink.”