Riddle me this: How can a day be both interminably long and too short in which to accomplish anything?
I woke up several mornings ago feeling fragile and restless. This happens. Sometimes I can shake the feeling off, but other times it clings like tar. This particular morning, it clung.
Children really respond to the unspoken, unseen things inside their parents. I’ve noticed that when I am up, Seabass is often up with me, and when I’m down, he is like a yawning black hole in our home, sucking every last bit of patience and energy I have.
So what happens when I wake up low and can’t recover? Mayhem, scuffles, despair. Seabass is about to turn three, and apparently three really is the magic number because he has become magically insane. We tiptoe around the house knowing that anything could set him off onto a crying jag or, worse, a full bloom tantrum.
He has developed sensitivity into an art, and an unpredictable one at that. I was washing dishes the other night and a wine glass slipped out of my hand to crack in the sink. Seabass nearly lost his mind. Sweet Chuck dropped her baby spoon on the floor yesterday and he was beside himself. The worst I’ve ever seen, though, was when he released a birthday party balloon and it drifted into the sky. His jaw appeared to unhinge from the rest of his face, he was so upset. My first response was, “Come on, kid! That’s what balloons do!” But I forget that he doesn’t know about helium. He doesn’t see that the very thing which keeps his balloon upright is that which can also take it far, far away.
So on this fragile morning, I just couldn’t handle the shenanigans, the whining, the irrational Seabass-ness of it all. And he knew it. He was poking at my wounds and provoking me to the point of exhaustion. And it was something like 9:45 AM.
I threw together a little snack for us to share on the front stoop while Sweet Chuck napped. My feet were cold and I needed to warm up in the spring sunshine. We sat there, chomping away at almonds for a while, before I found myself with my head in my hands, feeling hopeless.
“Are you sad, mama?”
“Yes, sweetie, I am.”
“Are you having a good day?”
“No, I’m not.”
“Because it’s just a bad day,” I said, sighing. “Is it a good day for you?”
“Oh?” I asked, a little surprised, given the screaming tantrum I had just witnessed not three minutes before. “Why is it a good day for you?”
“Because the birds are flying, and there are helicopters and airplanes.”
Now look. I don’t usually get off on the “Kids Say The Darnedest Things!” entertainment sub-genre, but this was incredible. Perhaps it was his nonchalance. Or maybe how quickly his answer came. Whatever the case, Seabass surprised me, and lightened my load, even for just a moment. He was right: the birds were flying, and there were helicopters and airplanes. Not within view at the time, of course, but there were helicopters and airplanes somewhere in the world, and that was pretty great. I hugged his precious neck and kissed his apple cheeks and tried to memorize the pleasure of just being his mama.