A different kind of evaluation

June 30th, 2009

Did I really only post once in June, and that on the last day of the month? Is June really over? The year half-gone?

I had planned on a mid-year evaluation of this Writing Year, this year I’ve allowed myself to take myself seriously, this year I’ve taken the risk. It’s already there all sketched out in my poetry notebook, the pluses and the minuses and the plays well with others. The list of things I need to focus on for the second half of the year, the places I fall short. I had planned on posting a mid-year evaluation of this Writing Year today, on this last day of June, but on this last day of June we made another trip to the pediatric ER for my second son, the son who goes through life like a Humvee, the son who will scare a year off my life for sure.

He’s fine, like he was last time; he’s got a hard head (words you never want to hear, roughly translated from the German: we need to take an x-ray to rule out a skull fracture, it’s an internal rule when we see this kind of swelling).

But this is what it’s like, being mother to these boys: like a watermelon split open, my protective rind stripped away, all the fleshy fruit red in the sun. A peach, an apricot, all the soft easily bruised flesh on the outside. My first-born, I worry about how the world is going to break his heart, bruise his kind soul. He can be so suddenly, so easily crushed. My second son, I worry about broken bones. The boy has no sense of his boundaries, his limits, his size. I honestly think he has no idea that he is not yet two; I honestly think it does not occur to him that he is not every bit as big as his big brother. The things that will hurt them, these two, they are so different, but in this way they are the same: I cannot hold them at bay.

In no way can I protect my boys from their defining traits. The things that will hurt them – the Small Boy’s big heart and thin skin, Boychen’s all-afterburner-no-rudder approach to life – are also, of course, their greatest strengths. If they’re going to be their brave best selves in the world they will do it by calling on these very traits. Small Boy’s kindness, Boychen’s fearlessness. These are the things that can make them full and rich. These are the things that surely will hurt them. These are the things that make them who they are. These are the things that keep me awake at night, suddenly understanding what it is to be mother to these boys. Like a peach, bruised in transit.

In the pediatric ER

June 30th, 2009

In the pediatric ER

You refuse to entertain
the possibility
that you are small,
that the ladder is too high,
the scooter too fast,
that you are not as big
as your big brother.
That there are things
you cannot do.
So here we sit,
waiting,
for x-rays to clear.