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Friday, June 08, 2007

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Cat's Cradle

After two weeks of sitting around in my pyjamas in a catatonic stupor, I finally got around to emptying backpacks and opening report cards yesterday. It seems I am officially the mother of a third-grader. My firstborn springs into the dining room as I write this, naked except for his briefs. He is gloriously eight and a half: all limbs, freckles and missing teeth, golden brown all over, already. He is growing faster than even he can keep up with. His mind and body jump up to do something and fall down in a tangled heap. Half colt, all boy. Milestones skip across the surface of his days now, so fast, I miss them. He has to call them out to me. "Mom! I jumped off the diving board!" "Mom! My tooth came out!"

But that tooth just came in, I think. And how long was he in the deep end?

"Mom!"

Children turn time into a game with string. When I was eight years old, fall through spring took an eon, summer was an era, and childhood was an eternity. Now I realize that it all passed in a blink of my parents' eyes. The structure of our life together as a family —so elaborate, so permanent-seeming — collapsed between their hands when that time was done.

In the daily stream of pouring milk, changing diapers, signing schoolwork, applying bandaids, and the infinite, endless cycle of emptying and filling the dishwasher, it feels like this is how life has always been, and must always be. Memories of my life before Patrick and the children are like fragments of a dream, or stories overheard in passing about someone else. It seems inconceivable that this flow will someday have run its course. Yet there is my own mother, now living alone. My father is dead. My sister and I are grown. She has a wonderful, full life, with many friends, and we are both very close to her. But it is a world removed from what was. I can't imagine living all by myself someday. I don't suppose she did either, when she was my age.

Last Hallowe'en we took the boys trick or treating around our neighborhood. They ran ahead to a house with a dimly lit porch and rang the bell before we could stop them. We waited a few minutes, and decided no one was coming. As we turned around to go, I saw movement inside. An ancient, bent man was making his way to the door. His wife and a nurse were behind him.

"Wait, boys," I said. I turned them around and nudged them forward.

"Trick or treat!" they all sang out on cue. The dear man could barely walk, but he was so happy, he seemed to be dancing over the children. He was smiling and bobbing as he passed out candy from a bowl, while his wife clasped her hands to her chest and beamed.

As we turned back down the walkway, my eyes filled. I said to Patrick, "Can you imagine months going by, and never seeing a child?"

"No," he said, his fingers twining around mine. "I can't."

Palm to palm, we walked down the road together, our children skipping ahead.


Thanks to Parent Bloggers Network, Light Iris and Notes From the Trenches for the writing prompt and the carrot at the end of the stick.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Absolutely Bananas said...

Oh, I love this post. You're an amazing writer (as I'm sure you know)... great imagery. Here via PBN Blog Blast.
Absolutely Bananas

12:58 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

thanks, AB. I was especially needing to hear that this morning. :)

1:03 PM  
Blogger Ella said...

What a lovely post.

I love your writing and I will definitely be back.

3:07 PM  
Blogger shauna said...

It's been a long week penned up in a house with three rowdy kids who are fighting, nonstop. I needed this post. Thanks so much! And I hope you don't mind...I'd like to add you to my blogroll. :)

4:27 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

This is the best post I read today. thanks.

10:57 PM  
Blogger bon said...

Sigh... that's beautiful! Good thing for the rest of us it's just a random drawing and not a CONTEST! This post RULES.

11:08 PM  

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