Jan 5, 2009

The Circus is Back in Town...and in My Home

Well…Cirque Du Soleil rolled back into town this weekend for their latest show called “Kooza.” It conjured up many strange images for me as I pondered on the precise nature of what the show could possibly entail and what the name might mean.
I knew what it meant to me…A night alone…with The Boy…just me and him; because, to “Mommy,” it meant a Gig. Yes. Work; an honest exchange of time and talent in return for cold, hard cash and the boys over at Cirque tend to pay pretty well so she couldn’t pass it up. After all, they needed all the freaks they could get for Opening Night. They hate to disappoint the Locals.
So she loaded her up her costumes, her make-up, her juggling clubs and her stilts and hit the road…and left me standing in the doorway staring after her with my own young son in my arms and no idea how I was supposed to survive until she returned.
(I had visions of her returning home, several hours later, only to find the both of us naked on the curb with our home in ashes behind us and assorted firemen shaking their heads at my ineptitude and fighting wildly to hold her back as she lunged, repeatedly, for my throat.)
After The Boy had half-heartedly accepted the fact that Mommy was gone, we got down in the floor for further distraction and tussled and rolled around and bit each other and tickled and rough-housed until we both laid back, laughing and exhausted, and fell asleep.

“Too easy,” I thought as we both drifted off in the early evening and I was wrapped in a sense of effusive joy as I realized that I could handle all of this with no problems. I swooned away on rapturous waves and dreamed of me and The Boy, blazing our own trail; finding our own way. We didn’t need any Mommy. I dreamt of huge campfires, fresh kills, lean-to’s and long river voyages into the deep, dark wilderness. Yes, we could handle anything; just the two of us. I smiled in my sleep.
That’s when he woke up screaming and batting me with his tiny, flailing arms.
Clearly, he wanted something…desperately…and he expected me to provide it. I recalled the time I asked the doctor what I could do to strengthen the bond I had with my son. He looked at me mockingly over his glasses and said, “Learn to breastfeed.”
I was then able to ascertain that my son’s flailing arms weren’t meant to just batter me, they were searching in vain for teats that weren’t there…and not about to arrive any time soon either, for that matter. Panic set in. Hard.
I jumped up and carried him into the kitchen, searching frantically for cereal, bottles, bowls and breast milk. And all the while he was screaming at the top of his young lungs as if somebody were holding his feet to the Fire. Great, I thought, the neighbors will hear this and there I’ll be: Caught by DFACS, charged with child abuse or criminal neglect and waiting in a cell until she came to get me and then we’d have to go through the utter horror of fetching our son from some lame-ass Foster Home which, inevitably, would be occupied by one of those smarmy-ass, ultra-religious families with thirty kids from every third-world nation on the planet scattered around singing “It’s a Small World After All” and a smug look on their faces that said, in no uncertain terms, that they knew far better than you how to your raise your children.
I shuddered as I darted around the kitchen looking for the supplies I needed to keep him happy and healthy. And, in case you’ve never tried it, it’s damn hard to do all of these things one-handed because you can’t put the baby down because then he’ll only cry more and add another tier of panic to the situation and frazzle the last nerve you were still clinging to for some measure of sanity.
It was at this moment, when I was most desperate to get something in his mouth and keep him quiet, that I realized one, terrible fact: All of the breast milk was frozen.
I cursed a blue streak inside my head and gritted my teeth while he screamed in the crook of my arm and flailed even more for the nourishment he needed and wanted. His cries reached a fevered pitch and I was sure that the axes would come down on the door at any second.
I fumbled the milk bottle into a pan of hot water and cooed to him that everything was alright; that daddy had a handle on all of it. Yes; everything would be fine. And I went on, in a more conversational tone, about all the advantages of Boarding School and how much he was going to enjoy it when he got there. Sure, it would be hard at first but, eventually, he’d make friends. “Of course you can come home to visit; every Christmas for at least two days. It will be splendid and you’ll get to read all kinds of books and play with other fussy children and you can go straight from there to college.”
He was still screaming. And besides, he knew I could never afford all of that. It had no effect on him at all. He just kept screaming.
I thought briefly about modern-day Gypsies and wondered what a healthy baby might fetch on the open market. At least $70,000 surely. I could get pretty far with that kind of scratch in my pocket.
He kept screaming and the watched pot with the milk in it never seemed to get hot and my head was spinning and all the nightmares I had ever had about what it might be like to be the sole adult totally responsible for the welfare of a child were coming true. Then: The milk melted. I grabbed it from the pan (burning my hand in the process) poured it into his bottle and crammed it in his mouth as fast as I could.
Silence. It really is Golden. I can promise you that.
And…well, it was all gravy after that. I changed his diapers, gave him a bath, read him a brief story called “Baby Danced the Polka” (His mother’s Polish, by way of explanation for the book only; I’m not making some crude joke. Seriously.) And he settled down and we both drifted off…for real this time.
I’m not sure how much time went by before Mommy came home again but I was on the couch when she shook me awake and I jumped in fear as I looked up to see her face still hidden behind her make-up from the show. She put down all her bags and showed me the picture she had professionally made of herself in costume with her friend who had wrangled tickets to the show and surprised her.

“Groovy,” I said, still half asleep.
“How’d it go?” She asked.
I eased back on the couch and smiled at her. “Fine,” I said. “No problems. What? You think I can’t handle it?”
Her eyes went wide and she just looked at me for a second and then she ran to the hall.
“Where’re you going?” I called after her.
“I’ve got make sure that my son is safe!” she called back.


l.c. said...

Ah, and safe he was. Of course he woke up shortly after I got home... relieving me of any rest I considered having.
I'm glad that Daddy finally got a taste of Mommy-hood. Maybe now he won't be as smarmy when he says, "Thanks for this light, Daddy," as a lesson to me about how "difficult" his smoke break ridden day was. I know it Must've been hard... what with all of those blog comments you left on the internet while you were at "work."

Anyhow, thanks for the wonderful story. I especially found the bit about lying by the road naked as the firemen ran by entertaining.

Somebody help this man get his book published!

kel said...

Good story. It's just...did you really need to push back my baby clock yet again? I'm getting too old for this shit.

All This Trouble... said...

That feather collar rocks!
Your story is good, too.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Fortunately, you sound like a very capable and wonderful father and Mom is obviously a woman of wonder and talent, too, so I think The Boy is blessed beyond telling and safe from DCF hell.

I absolutely loved this part:

"I swooned away on rapturous waves and dreamed of me and The Boy, blazing our own trail; finding our own way. We didn’t need any Mommy. I dreamt of huge campfires, fresh kills, lean-to’s and long river voyages into the deep, dark wilderness."


Clay Perry said...

wait until you build a fort with him to hunt for sharks and bigfoot, watch a good movie with him that youve enjoyed all your life, read the hobbit to him, explain to him why it is he has to go to school, pace around in a cloud of worry while he is very sick, watch him open his very own red rider, teach him the finer points of a good over all explosion, feel a bit awkward as you have to explain that the girl in class likes him ok, she just cant help that she likes his friend better, then wonder about her as he walks proudly around the next day when she "likes" him more now... and then have to show him how to defend himself when the friend has had enough of his gloating, sit in the school office while they explain to you that he cant do what he did yesterday (feeling like you have done something wrong), explain to him how it is that you know that drinking really isnt worth all the bullshit it brings about and worry as he heads off for the sleep over, try to remain calm when in the passenger seat as he puts the thing in drive and gives it gas... its a pretty interesting adventure all in all... the strange part is - its all here and gone before you can even take a decent breath..and you know that overwhelming sense of worry that creeps up on you in the middle of the night from its constant lurking place in the back of your mind throughout the day? it never goes away.

Cat said...

Yes, you MUST read him The Hobbit.

Just me... said...

Aww.. You're just a big old softie, aren't you?? :):)

Purest Green said...

Why was the breast milk frozen? Did you leave it on the porch? Or is your fridge plotting against you, in league with the new couch? When furniture starts forming alliances, you've got a really problem.

Michelle said...

Do you realize what you have done? You appeared the smallest bit capable so now she will leave you with the boy child every chance she can get!
Its called Mommy's revenge.

Tiffany said...

It might work if her orange skin was the result of too much Vitamin C... however, I have a feeling (though I could be wrong, I suppose) that her orange skin is due to her overuse of tanning beds. But hey, you could certainly give it a try! :)

Bulldog said...

Sorry, but it gets harder the older they get.being able to talk only means they ask for more. Do yourself a favour, next time, when she comes back, let her "catch" you blow-drying his diaper, and say "I didn't break him, he broke himself!" she won't ask again.

Mel said...


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