friday faves - back and forth

In the span of a few seconds I can go back and forth between utter contempt for my child to the purity of bliss just beholding him.

For instance, even though it isn't his fault—it's the fault of the seizures and the drugs—sometimes I loathe Calvin's poor balance. The other morning, while he was playing with the shutters in the bathroom, as I was seated on the toilet lid holding his harness, he suddenly careened so quickly that he might have cracked his skull on the side of the porcelain sink if I hadn't caught him and—impatiently—redirected him.

Then he led me outside for a thirty-minute circus of righting him, supporting him and breaking his falls as he stumbled around the yard like some poor hack obliterated by a dozen shots of whiskey topped off with a couple of six packs of beer. I prevented him from breaking his teeth on the iron bench while trying to bite it, from poking his eye out on a few blunt, sharp branches and from whacking his noggin on a rock—exasperating to say the least.

Back inside I encouraged him to play with some toys on the floor. Kneeling, he discovered a shoebox and picked it up to bite it before setting it back down. Its hinged top popped opened revealing several of his favorite colorful toys inside, rattles and the like. Calvin seemed completely oblivious to their presence. After about five minutes he accidentally put his hand inside the box on top of one of the toys, picked it up and began chewing on it. I just rolled my eyes.

And his screeching and coughing, like some rabid hyena, sends me to a hellish place that I'm not sure I can even describe except to say I detest it, along with the matching diabolical expression he gets on his face. Again, I know it's not his fault but nonetheless at times it's like water torture.

But then, inevitably, whether in his high chair, his jumper or on our bed, Calvin recognizes my presence, perhaps looks me in the eyes for a second or two, reaches out and pulls me close. Sometimes I get a slobbery kiss on the cheek with his open mouth, teeth bared, and at others he affectionately yanks my head around by my hair, like some comic strip caveman, and—if I'm well rested—I laugh, though I'm in some pain.

My moods with Calvin go back and forth like some kid (other than Calvin) on a swing, the ebb and flow of the sea's tides or the heavy rocking pendulum of a clock. One minute I'm utterly joyous and the next I wonder how I'll manage getting through the rest of the day much less a lifetime of this, day in and day out, for as long as the kid survives.

And then I stop in my tracks, realize how lucky I am to have this little boy who shouldn't have survived, this boy who lives in the moment—not the past or the future or the material. So, tomorrow is a new day, and I think it's that back and forth—the ups and downs—that must be making this curious world I love so much go round and round and round.

Version originally published 10.15.2011

photo by Michael Kolster

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