Getting back into the usual groove, the daily routine after a holiday, is not easy. We had grown, in very short order, accustomed to the slow-moving mornings, the leisurely consumption of meals, the waking up a little later and lingering in bed a little longer. The absence of SIB (or the significant reduction of random thumping sounds through the baby monitor) helped this easing of the daily urgency of action. Yesterday morning we were all slightly “off” and by last evening we were attempting (valiantly, exhaustedly, desperately) to regain that mindset that says “you are not people of leisure.”
Dinner was calm, quiet, enjoyable. There are things we try to do to push the madness of the world out, and sitting down to dinner is one of them. OK, we also sit down to breakfast, and -if we’re all home- we sit to lunch and to have coffee and cookies, or cake, or ice cream. We are sitters. We set the table (yes, even for breakfast,) and we turn down the revolutions of the grindstone. Even if we’re just having coffee and toast for breakfast, we sit down and relax while doing it…the rest of the day will be hard enough, no? Why start off in a hurry???
Soon after J had left the table a soft knocking on the door startled us. Six-thirty P.M. An odd time for the mail, UPS or FedEx, but not too out-of-left-field. Dada and I looked at each other and asked “are you expecting anyone?” The knock was strange. It was almost intimate. I asked Dada this morning “didn’t you get the impression that it was almost as knocking on the speakeasy’s door? Or the French Resistance meeting place? Or the Underground Railroad’s safe house?” He said yes to all of the above. We skulked upstairs and looked down at the driveway, and saw no one. The neighbors, I reflected, would’ve rung the doorbell, or they would have called. I asked them this morning and they said “no, it wasn’t us. We would’ve called, or rung the doorbell. Under extreme circumstances we would’ve pounded on the wall vigorously.”
We are not random “door openers.” In this town, sadly, home invasions have become more usual. It’s not forced-entry unless you don’t open the door, or unless you don’t get pushed into your house by the person who knocked and you naively let in because they were selling vacuum cleaners. (Yes, we had one of those a couple of years ago…) We are chicken shits, if you will. We are all about prevention. We have a doorbell, and if you ring it, we will see if you are someone we know. If we don’t know you, we won’t let you in, end of story. I always answer the door with the phone in my hand, my knee pressed against the door, and my shoulder leaning in. It’s going to take a bit of effort to push past me, and there’s a big stick by the door, too. As I said: I am a chicken shit.
The rest of the evening went well. We heard a lot of clattering outside, and even went to check and turned on the porch light, but we were not in a panic (chicken shits though we may be.)
At 10:15 we brought J upstairs and he got his story. Last night it was If You Give a Pig a Pancake, which makes it “baked-goods week” in the story calendar…and, yes, we know pancakes are not baked, but If You Give a Moose a Muffin is in there for tomorrow night so it’s an inside joke. Dada always starts with “this story is brought to you by the Mouse With a Cookie,” and then he veers into the realm of ad-libbing with “it was a windy day, and a vagrant pig (or moose) was lurking menacingly, peeking through a window in search of something to eat…preferably free of charge, and abundantly available.” I am seldom in the room for readings because J prefers these diversions. Dada gauges how much is needed based on how quickly or slowly J is eating his ½ cup serving of bedtime cereal.
Once the story was read (and I know that was a big digression, but -hey!- my 21 year-old still enjoys bedtime stories better suited for much younger children, and we think that’s cool,) Dada and J went through their usual COFFEE? WORK? COFFEE? WORK? routine and I went in and kissed him goodnight (also getting the COFFEE? WORK? COFFEE? WORK?) We climbed into bed, and Dada pretended to read while snoring with his eyes open. After the usual nudge, goodnight kiss, and turning off the light, he was out and I read for about twenty minutes.
Shortly after I had settled in and was concentrating on drifting off, J’s bedroom door opened quietly, and then hallway closet door opened quietly. A minute went by, and the closet door closed softly, and then the bedroom door. Through the baby monitor came the sound of the fan and the humidifier. No fretting, no grumpy grunting, no SIB…nothing.
I waited a minute or two, and then -without turning on the light- I shuffled to J’s bedroom. I could see the soft glow of his fairy lights, and I went and knocked softly. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but I could tell he was sitting in bed. And he wasn’t startled to see me, but his demeanor was “oh, I woke you up?” I asked if he needed help, and that’s when I noticed it…
J was changing his own bandaids.
Yes, friends. The kid who was so impatient he couldn’t be bandaid-less without beating himself up was quietly sitting on his bed, bandaid-less. The bandaids were laid out on his bed, most of them still in their individual wrappers, and he had started the process of placing the one he likes to have in the crease between his thumb and forefinger. I asked if he needed help, and he said HELP. He kept looking at the door. I think he was wondering if he had woken Dada up, or if we were upset. I took that moment to tell him how proud I am that he felt he needed something, and decided to be independently proactive about it. We finished putting the bandaids on, we added the wrist brace, did the whole COFFEE? WORK? COFFEE? WORK? thing, and he hugged me tightly. I kissed him, told him once more how proud I am of him, and how much I love him, and then he gave me a BYE that said “enough of this malarkey, woman! Out of my room!”
I tiptoed back to bed with my heart buoyed by this little act of calm independence. J wanted his bandaids. He wanted them badly enough to crawl out of his comfy bed, put his slippers on (this young man will NOT walk around barefoot except when immediately stepping out of, or into, the shower.) J quietly opened his bedroom door and the hallway closet door, turned on the battery-operated light in the closet, counted his bandaids, quietly closed that door and his bedroom door. He took control of his own anxiety, and he didn’t want to bother us…
I’ll give you a second to let that sink in…
Uh-huh. I cried. Quietly. Not wanting to wake Dada up. For a while. And then I went to sleep feeling so proud I wanted to wake up the neighborhood. I didn’t, of course, but it was the first thing I told Dada once I’d sipped my coffee and was capable of stringing words into a coherent sentence.
And, yes, he welled up, too…
So…yeah, back into a groove after the holiday…this one feels pretty darned good.