Friday, September 14, 2007

Poetry Friday..."Letting Go"

Do human beings enjoy the feeling of inner turmoil? One of the hardest things I'm trying to teach my kids is how to "let go" of certain emotions. Got upset after losing the soccer game? Now it's time to let it go. Mad at your brother because he won't play Barbies with you? Let it go. Fighting bedtime yet again? Let's do that relaxation exercise so you can let it go.

Today's Poetry Friday word/phrase concerns "letting go". Feel free to explore that concept in whatever creative outlet rubs your temples...story, photo, song lyric, recipe for cinnamon rolls, lullaby.... I have two real-life things today, as the ability to write poetry is currently escaping me.

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Mona Lets Go

The house I grew up in was a 2-story farmhouse of sorts. My brother and sister and I all slept upstairs. The stairwell to our bedrooms was claustrophobic, and going up the stairs felt like jail, not just because it meant bedtime, but because the upper railings stood tall and firm, with spindles set apart every three inches. They were old, previously painted some hideous shade of pink, now hidden by layers of brown paint. For years, there was no handrail along the side of the stairs to support you as you traversed the scary landing. I would have nightmares of those stairs.

The dream, always the same. Somehow I'd gotten my arms and legs caught on the top of the landing, on each side, so that I was touching my toes with my hands, jackknifed, my butt dangling in the air, over the dozen or so wide steps below. I held on for dear life. I'd cry and scream for help, which never came. I'd shake, and feel my grip slipping, and when I couldn't stand it any more, I'd let go and faaaaaallllll and thump myself awake, sweaty and anxious and wondering why no one would help me.

My dad put up the handrail when my sister was born. The dreams stopped.

The feeling never quite went away, though, that feeling of non-support and fear. Throughout high school, college, and forward, sometimes fear would grab me and make me feel like I was dangling, butt down, over a pit, trying to hang on, shaking and crying. Eventually I'd have to let go. Eventually I'd have to wake up. Eventually, letting go would be the best thing I could do.

Boy-child Takes Over

After a busy evening of running to sports and a school meeting with Boy-child, we stopped at his favourite sandwich shop to get him some dinner. We'd gone round and round with where to go, and the lateness of the day and the fatigue of the work/school circuit had gotten to me. I was frustrated at our inability to decide on one place to grab dinner, and I could feel the tension accumulate in a little bubble in my brain...

Dammit, why is this such a hard decision?
Why does he never want to go where I do?
He should just get dinner himself.
He should do it.
He should know how to order a sandwich and pay for it.

I announced to Boy-child, "Alright, we'll go to Subway for you. But I want you to order all by yourself. I'll give you $10 to buy whatever you want. I'll sit inside and wait for you. Then we'll stop at the chicken place and pick up my dinner." Boy-child was eager to savor this new freedom. I handed him a tenner and parked the car.

We went in, and Boychild stood at the end of the line. He held the money I'd given him like it was butterfly he had palmed, fluttering, ready to fly. "Here's a thing," I whispered to him, "When you have money, fold it up in your hand or keep it in your pocket, pull it out when you have to pay, and put the change back in your pocket. Too easy to lose it or have someone grab it when it's held so loosely." Boy-child nodded and folded up the paper. I told myself that was the only thing I'd help him with. I went to a nearby booth and sat down to watch.

Boy-child moved to the window to order, selected his sandwich in a loud and clear voice, directed the sandwich chef to the toppings he wanted, picked out chips and ordered the very adult-like ‘combo’. Not the kids meal. The sandwich chef looked at me and smiled, looked back at Boy-child, now the only customer in the place, and started chatting him up.

“So, are you a senior?”, she said, and shot a quick smiling glance my way.

“No, fifth grade.”

“Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Well, no, I mean, not yet, I mean, sorta.”

“Oh, you’ll have one soon, I’m sure of that!”

Boy-child blushed, mumbled, “Yeah”, and took the change she offered him.

While Boy-child was spritzing soda into his cup near the cash register, the sandwich chef reached behind the counter and took out a toy that comes with their kids meal pack. She put it on the counter and motioned to it. “Here, this is for you,” she said.

Boy-child was surprised. “Thank you! Oh, cool! I mean, thank you!”

He jumbled the toy, the money, the soda, the chips, the sandwich, juggling them, dropping the chips, startled. "Here, let me help you, bud," I said as I folded up the three dollars in change, showed him how the Subway bag would carry not only the sandwich but the chips and toy, held the bag for him as he found a lid and straw for the soda.

He took the bag from my grasp, turned to the sandwich chef and said "Bye!" over his shoulder, and sidled up to me, putting his head on my arm for just a second, walking close to me, smiling.

We walked out, Boy-child grinning, holding a grownup meal in one hand and a toy in the other. Straddling those two worlds. Growing up.


At 2:59 PM, Blogger Maggie said...

I have similar weird dreams about elevators with no walls. Scary.

My heart fluttered at the story about boy-child. He is the same age as my oldest. They grow so quickly. This age is fun for me. Watching him try to be grown up and then coming home and playing with his GI Joes.

At 3:20 PM, Blogger D-Man said...

I hate it when they won't play Barbies with me.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Irrelephant said...

The own dreams echo that terror, that loss of control, but oh Mona dear, the Subway adventure with Boy Child. *weepy smile* I remember my mom telling me a very long time ago how to keep my money safe just like you told your little 'un. I'm deeply proud of you for your actions, for letting go enough to let the fledgling stand on the edge of the nest and flap a few good strong flaps, and then return to the warmth and safety of the nest. Two lessons learned: freedom, and that he can always come home for reassurance and love. Brava, Mona dear. Brava.

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

How precious a memory is that?! What a neat age.definitely "straddling"!

At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous, too said...

One small step for Boy-child, one giant leap for his mother...

At 12:36 AM, Blogger amusing said...

Ever so charming.
The loosening of the grasp continues here....
Though I am working on him to "let go" -- he seems to need to police EVERYTHING and if it doesn't upset him somewhere inside, it must bug the hell out of his friends... "Let it go, sweetie, It doesn't matter to you if your brother's shoelace is untied. I'll take care of it."

I worry he thinks he needs to be "the man of the house"

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

Aw. That's so cool. He'll always remember that, too.

Hey, Amusing, why do you keep talking about _my_ youngest? Holy cow. *wink*


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