Saturday, April 22, 2006

notes from the day the living room was covered in salad greens

Mike goes to work every day – talks to adults, moves in the professional world, receives accolades for his achievements. But that is not why I’m jealous and resentful. I’m jealous and resentful because he gets to eat lunch every day. Sometimes by himself, sometimes with colleagues, sometimes leftovers, sometimes treating himself to a grilled veggie burrito from the groovy Cal-Mex place nearby. No one to strap into a plastic seat with tray, no one casting applesauce hither and thither, no little hands to keep out of his own food, and there is always his own food not just when it’s a “good” day. He can set his glass of water down as close or as far from his lunchmates as he likes. His lunch is not interrupted by diaper changes or tantrums over who gets to pick up the phone when it rings…

Please go to sleep, Isaac. Please. Please go to sleep. Go to sleep!..

When I was in middle school, my friends and I would play “Name That Tune” with the popular songs of the day. One of us would put on a record (yes, a record!) and the others would race to be the first to name the song and band correctly. I sucked at this game. I’d have to put up the best front I could – “ooh-oohing” and bouncing up and down in my seat, wait-a-minute-wait-a-minute kind of stuff like the answer was on the tip of my tongue, but I never knew. In a funny way, I’m making up for that now. I can name any of Isaac’s books by the first line, sometimes the first word or two. And I’ve taken to hiding some of Isaac’s books. Just the ones he asks to read 400 times a day and that I find particularly annoying after the 2nd or 3rd go – the Elmo book, those fucking dolphins, and the duck book, which doesn’t tell you much since they are all (besides Elmo and the fucking dolphins) duck books...

Please go to sleep, Izzy. Baby, it’s nap time. Night-night. It’s mommy’s nap time. Go to sleep, Isaac. Please. please.

Every time I open the refrigerator Isaac grabs the bag of salad greens. Since he usually reaches for the beer, I figure I’m on safer ground and don’t really pay close attention. Each time, I convince him to put the bag back on the shelf, which he does with much pride in his ability. On the last frig trip, I apparently skipped this step. I notice him with the bag, then decide to pick up some form of reading material from the coffee table. I double check it has no bunnies or ducks in it, no one going on picnics, becoming tragically separated from their mothers and then triumphantly reunited, no one deftly sneaking counting games into non-existent plots, and start to read. When I look up, my son has undone the twist tie and spread the lettuce around the room. The cats come out to investigate. Isaac, always willing to share, offers them each a wilty leaf. They are organic greens, in case you were wondering. Only the best for my boy…

Call me out of touch, but I hate cell phones. That’s right, I said it. Hate them. I won’t go into all the reasons here. My husband and I share one cell phone. My friends think this is strangely quaint. Of course, compared to what we used to have, what we have now is a big improvement. It would be like moving from an 8-Track to an I-pod. The phone we had for a long time, up until shortly before Isaac was born, in fact, was a complete dinosaur that could be easily confused for an 80s car phone. Its charge wore out in minutes it seemed, so we bought a battery that clicked onto it making it the biggest cell phone in the world and us the target of ridicule. This was not the slim thing that fits in breast pockets or eye glass cases. It was a monster. Our friends would steal it away, taunting and passing it back and forth. “Look at this!... No, no, ya gotta see this thing!” “Hey, give it back,” I’d whine, like a grade school bully had just stolen away my hat and wanted to play monkey in the middle. “It’s for emergencies,” I’d tell them, though it has yet to help me out of one yet…

Please, go to sleep, Isaac. That’s right. Night-night. Sleepy time. …(Pacabell ’s Cannon blares from the living room) SHIT! I fucking HATE cell phones!!!! Okay, Iz, wakey time then. Wakey-wakey. Mommy doesn’t want to answer the phone. Here, you have the phone. Play with the phone. In fact, go play with the cats. They’re under the bed. There. See? They really want to play.

My husband gets home from swimming lessons with Isaac. I’ve cleaned up the salad greens. I am under the covers trying to make the day go away. Isaac has tottered into the bedroom and is trying to fit one of his dad’s dirty socks over his head. “Did you return the bikini bottom?” I ask Mike, referring to half the little girl’s pink and purple flowered bathing suit he found in our swim bag last week. “Yeah,” he tells me. I am waiting for the rest of the story.

“So you knew whose it was?” I try.


“And what did you say?” I’m not willing to let it go yet.

“I said, ‘Is this yours?’”


“And the dad said, ‘Yeah’.”

“So you didn’t say, ‘I found this in my swim bag, isn’t that totally weird? Did you wonder where it was all week?’?”


Isaac walks over to the bed so his face is next to mine and nods his head furiously up and down in agreement with his dad's reticence.

Can’t bleed nothing out of the men in my life. How’s a woman supposed to find things to write about?


j said...

If it makes you feel more up to date, I don't even have a cell phone. And I like it that way....

tracy said...

I tell you, it's women who keep the human story alive. Men have such limited story-weaving power.

So the burden is on us - both physically and culturally - to keep the entire human existance aware of how beautiful it is to find lettuce under the cat.

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