I don't know whether it's the up and down weather here in L.A. (cold in the morning and at night, hot during the day), or the high energy of impending holidays, but I've been incredibly lazy, sleepy, unwilling, when it comes to writing. Instead I work on school stuff, help the kids, kick back and watch television, read, eat. As I told someone who asked, "I'm just bobbing along," a leaf floating down a creek, a seedling in a gentle breeze. A quiet peace seems to have fallen over our house - the noise level less, the tension dissipated. I don’t know where all that “extra” stuff went, but the absence is welcomed.
A local college has an opening for a full time business law professor so of course, I applied. It took me months to do it. The ad has been sitting on the college’s website for two months. I’d look at it and my heart would skip a beat and my stomach would tighten up…not in wishful thinking but in pure stress. I felt obligated to apply because these positions are rare. The family needs the income. The hours wouldn’t be much more than now, only I’d get paid twice as much. Oh certainly there’d be a wee bit more work, networking-kind-of-work…yes, yes, but…but…
I sent out the application. Right away I got a letter in the mail. I saw the envelope and thought, “A rejection letter! So soon!” I slashed open the thing and found an optional information sheet. Something about my sex, age and race. For survey purposes. I have nothing to hide – I filled it out and off it went.
Full time work is daunting, however, especially with the children being still so young. On the other hand, the financial stresses are killing us. The stories don’t joke that money is the primary cause of marital disharmony in the suburbs. I’d go one step further and say it’s the cause of familial disharmony. The frustration leaks down from the parents to the kids to the dogs. I’m pretty sure that when Sassy runs screaming out the front door every chance she gets, it’s due to our lack of finances. (“Not enough snacks! Not enough snacks! Get me to Beverly Hills!”)
So…I don’t know. Here I am…waiting to see if they’ll interview me, hoping they won’t, desperate that they hire me, terrified they will. Truth is, I like being free of any responsibility or obligation. Raising a family though takes away that as a viable option.
The other day I saw a black cat sitting proper in between two small track homes, sitting still as an Egyptian statue. She sat on aged grass facing the street, facing me. Behind her I could see the water meter, pipes twisting into the house, and slew of tied, colored balloons, leftovers from a party. I wondered whether they belonged to one of the two houses, or whether they’d landed there from some other house, from some other gathering. The cat looked perfect. Picture perfect. Belonging to nobody. Free…like the balloons had once been. I wished for my camera.
New tics. A has developed a vocal tic – a repeated humming. His Tourette’s actually started that way but A.D.D. medication alleviated the symptoms entirely. So for two years he hadn’t made any noise at all. D and I just looked at each other tiredly when we noticed that it wasn’t going away. The thing came on as suddenly as it had disappeared. The good thing is that has a soft voice so the sound isn’t as jarring as J’s noise which means we won’t pull him out of school, not yet. I don’t know if I could handle both boys being home taught, or home schooled. The thought of the two of them at home makes me shake in my proverbial boots.
Unfortunately, A had to endure two different teachers who chastised him (one of them wrote him up for “insistent noise”) for making the sound in class. I had to go to the school and educate the teachers. What frustrated me wasn’t the substitute teacher but his regular teacher. I’d made her aware of the potential for vocal tics months ago. I had explained to her, “If he makes a noise that doesn’t stop with a warning from you, a noise that continues, a repetitive noise, it’s a tic and he can’t control it.”
My poor baby – despite his tendency to be a bull in a china shop, despite his stocky build, he’s quite passive when it comes to authority. So when his regular teacher asked him to be quiet. He really tried to be quiet. He didn’t say anything to her when she commented, “Are you copying your brother? You weren’t doing this last week so it can’t be a tic.”
She did admit that she asked him, “Can you stop doing that?”
He’d looked at her, pursed his lips, thinking, pondering the question. Then said, “No.”
And STILL she didn’t believe it was a tic. So…needless to say, she chastised him and he arrived at my car, upset and moping. I had a chat with the teacher, sorry that I hadn’t told her earlier, believing my month-ago conversation would be enough.
Epilogue: she did apologize to him personally.
J’s transformation into a full-fledged teenager continues to…captivate me. The other day he asked me to drive him to a local park to hang out with some friends of his. He grabbed his skateboard and hopped into the car. We drove to the designated park and he didn’t see his friends. He called on the cell phone, speaking in some language I could barely understand, something sprinkled with “dude” and “where you at, yeah?” Soon, about five kids emerged from the playground, all tall and lanky and swaggering. And then J rattled off an, “I love ya, Mom, bye!” before slamming the car door and making his way across the grass, a boy tallish and lanky and swaggering. As he walked away, skateboard at his side, his long-haired form blurred, he blended in with the other kids. He looked nothing like my child. He was a teenager. Worse, he was a teenager that I’d have never communicated with when I was his age. Hell no. I’d have passed him by in the halls. I’d have looked down and hugged my books to my chest and groaned with annoyance if he screamed or whooped it up (as J is wont to do). The sight makes me drive home quickly to A and M – who are home, sprawled on the couch, watching something stupid. I huddle down in between the two of them, grateful that they’re still little and kissable, that they’ve not hit that peak yet. The sight of J in the park makes me miss his babyhood intensely.