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Saturday, October 1, 2011


 "Stupid dog," I mutter under my breath. The shrill-barking beagle, the one who will not stay off the furniture, is still in his crate downstairs. He cannot hear my invective, though certainly we can hear his baying. And it is only day two of dog-sitting.

"What did you say?" my son asks.

"Oh, nothing," I reply, vaguely too ashamed to have to repeat my frustration in a louder, clearer voice.

"Because I thought you said he was a stupid dog," my son adds, snuggling deeper under the comforter in the chill of the fall morning. "He's not really a stupid dog," he says, speaking slowly, as if feeling his way into his idea, "it's probably really hard to stay in a place where all the rules are completely the opposite of the rules where you normally live."

He is seven, this sage of mine.

I hug him close, affirming how deeply correct he is. "Yes," I say. "I need to have more patience with him. You are absolutely right."

I can hardly believe that here, with his head pressed into the hollow of my shoulder, his feet are approaching my own. How many more of these pre-dawn conversations do I have left? How many months before he sleeps through this precious half-hour, this sliver of our day in which we can talk freely about his interests, his fears, his triumphs, the difficulties he faces at school? In which we can listen to, and really hear, each other?

I wrap my arms around his sinewy child self, breathing deeply the smell of his hair, where still lingers the scent of the baby he used to be. How quickly will this child, who has his own ideas now about how his hair should be cut, outgrow wanting to talk to his mama first thing in the morning?

This fall, he suddenly seems to me to be poised on the edge of older-child-hood. Recently, he is shy of telling me he loves me too as he walks out the door to meet the school bus, though he is also still child enough to look me full in the face, smiling, and tell me he won't tell me he loves me because that laughing defiance is our code for the start of a tickle retaliation. He is wise--wiser than I am sometimes about matters that require patience and empathy, as he innocently reminds me on this chill fall morning. And he is silly--silly enough to squabble with his sister about who gets which bowl of berries at snack time.

I marvel at the balance he maintains. Effortlessly standing on the mid-line between work and play, between the sunshine of sudden full-face smiles and the brooding moodiness of an older child, between observations whose insight stuns me and pouting petulance over having to eat the meat he has been served at dinner.

He is balanced. To perfection. Precisely in the spot between six-years-old and eight-years-old.

In my own efforts at balance, I have neglected this blog for the past four months. I have poured myself into exciting projects and unexpected opportunities that work has given me. I have read, and written, and thought, and read some more. In between that, I have been ice skating with my daughter, reading with my son, walking our new dog, laughing with my husband. I have helped a dear friend move away, and I have made a new friend in one who similarly felt the giant hole our Chicago-bound-girlfriend left behind. I have striven for a balance between work and play.

And while I have made great strides (yes, I can do a half-lutz! I am learning a scratch spin! my four-volume edited collection is nearly done! my daughter has started kindergarten! my son has started playing a new sport! my husband and I have had several real date nights!), I have missed writing here. And I have missed you, my online community. I've been reading your words, feeling somewhat bereft of my own. I have been keeping up with your lives as best I can, feeling my way towards that balance of living my own and not losing a sense of yours.

And so, I am back. I hope more regularly, though probably not every day. I need this kind of creative outlet. I need to write. And I need this sense of community.

Here I am then, trying to take a page from my son's book. Perfectly inhabiting his age, his present, his life, he is a better role model than many others I might identify right now. Balanced, almost effortlessly.

It feels a worthy goal, in this instance, to try to emulate a child.


All Adither said...

It sounds like you've had a full 4 months! I love the way you write about your son and your morning chats. If it makes you feel any better, I have an 8-and-a-half year old and he still likes to cuddle and talk. Don't know if I'll get two more years of it, though. I imagine we'll get some of those moments. They'll come and go.

It's great that you're appreciating your son as a young boy.

Suburban Kamikaze said...

A half-lutz, four volumes edited and marriage and family unneglected? You're setting the bar awfully high for anyone else out there ridiculous enough to think they can combine figure skating, family life and a writing career.

Best of lutz with that,

Anna Lefler said...

Welcome back! I love this post.

And we have one of those braying beagles, btw. He is adorable but - man! - what a bark he has!

Enjoy your day...

:-) Anna

LceeL said...

Enjoy him while you can - because adolescence can mean (not that it MUST mean) raging hormones and sullen, one word answers. Well, not necessarily sullen, but minimally conversational, for sure.

And yes. It is SO nice to find you and your lovely writing style out here, again.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Your boy is VERY wise. I hope he keeps his morning date with you for a long while yet.

And I'm so glad you are back. Just please don't post EVERY day. I can't keep up. I want to read everything but I don't have time. I have my own blance issues...

Ann Imig said...

This is so beautiful. I had a feeling you were describing a 7 year old, like my own boy.

I think a life away from blogging is a VERY wise idea. Someday I'd like to try it. Welcome back!


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