Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dark laughter

Out by the fire as the sun went down and the longest day turned to night.

I brought the bagels up again today. The jalapeno peppers were only going to last so long, and I didn't want that key ingredient being spoiled to ruin the fun of the project. As often happens with large-scale endeavors (and yes, making bagels definitely counts as a large-scale endeavor in this house), the boys' attention waxed and waned throughout the process. So, after mixing the ingredients and pushing the dough a few times around the floured countertop, they were done and the remaining 11 minutes of kneading were mine to fulfill.

They turned on TV, and 30 seconds later, there was a knock at the door. It was my sweet neighbor Christian who had come to drop off a stack of winter clothes for Fox that no longer fit her boy Atticus. Among the garments was this oatmeal-colored sweater that her own mother knit. My yarny heart pitter-patted at this. 

Woody showed Christian how he likes to slide through the wood- and tile-floored house with socks Risky Business style, and said "When the house is clean like this, it's really fun!" Then I did something regrettable. I laughed, darkly, and made a face, because the house is far from clean, and it's a source of embarrassment and feelings of ineptitude for me. So I guess I was trying to show that I knew better, that mentally healthy people know the difference between a clean and messy house. Christian raised her eyebrows--a gesture that could have meant anything, really, and was surely completely  innocuous--but Woody sensed the difficulty of the moment, smiled, and said sweetly, "Well, the house was clean a couple of days ago. But we do a lot of playing around here."

I wanted to melt through the floor, with love, and gratitude, and a whole bunch of sadness. 

It was a thirty-second social lesson that I couldn't take back. Woody had recognized the social expectation that he sensed I feared we were not meeting, and he made an excuse for it. 

We all moved on with the conversation smoothly, so maybe most of this was in my head. But there was something there that I felt uncomfortable with. I don't want my kids to internalize my silly insecurities or to make adjustments for them. And I really don't want them to know cynicism at home. 

Geesh, I have work to do. 

But we did finish the bagels. They were delicious. It was fun when they bubbled to the top of the pot of boiling water and we carefully fished them out. And we had a great conversation about what is considered American food and why.