The first day we got to Maine, Jason brought in a flower from the lawn outside the lodge where we were staying. I thought it was a dandelion, but my sister-in-law--who is a science and nature educator--told us that it was called a hawkbit. I always like learning new things. Jason liked bringing them in and showing them to us.
You're Scaring Me
I turn around, not surprised to see Jason standing in the door of our home office. This is about the tenth time he's gotten out of bed--to go to the bathroom (twice), to tell us something, to get a kiss from where he bonked his head, or any other excuse he could think of. At 10:30, it's long since past the time when he should have been asleep.
"You need to go to sleep," I say.
"I can't go to sleep because I'm scared with my music turned off," he says.
"Then turn it back on."
"I don't know how to turn it on."
I stand up and walk him back to his room. "You need to get in your bed and stop getting up," I say. He jumps onto his bed, flopping sideways atop a pile of blankets and stuffed animals.
Flicking on the light, I see that the little CD player on his shelf has been turned off. "Yes, I see that it's off," I say, "and nobody else was in here, so that means you must have done it. That's not OK, Jason." I speak sternly, but not harshly, and I do not raise my voice as I hit the button to restart the CD.
"You're scaring me," he says in a quiet voice.
"You're scaring me and you're making me sad."
I just look at him for a second. I know that this is just what he says when he doesn't like what I tell him, that he is not actually scared of me. I know that the tears welling up in his eyes are from frustration, not fear. He doesn't know how much his words cut me.
"I'm sorry, but you need to go to sleep right now."
"I don't know how to go to sleep!" he insists.
"Close your eyes and go to sleep," I say, closing the door.
"I'm sad and I'm not tired!" I hear him shout, and then he begins to wail. I know that he is tired, that he needs to sleep. I know that he will be out in a matter of minutes. I know that I have to say these things to him, that I have to set limits and boundaries, that it is what he really needs. I know that I am being firm but not mean, that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
He doesn't know what it means to me when he says I scare him, or that I make him cry. He doesn't know that I have seen men rage and been afraid, or how much it matters to me that I never become a figure of fear to my children, that I never have and never will raise my hand to them in anger.
I don't know how not to feel like a failure when he accuses me. But I know that I do the best I can, and that has to be enough.
As much as my younger brother and I are friends now, the main memory I have of our interactions growing up is of us fighting. Often with words, sometimes with fists--occasionally, even in song. So when Juliette and I started talking about having a second child, I had a little apprehension about how Jason would deal with it.
But as it turns out, they really do seem to love each other so far. They have their squabbles, sure, but Jason is mostly caring and conscientious toward his sister. And as far as Eva goes, you can see from the picture that she adores her big brother.
That smile--the one she gives him when he plays with her--it wasn't something I was expecting, but it's one of the best things in my life.
It's a little unnerving to be around other artists sometimes. Just after I snapped this, my sister-in-law leaned in and told me that she'd noticed the textures in the rock face, too, as well as the contrast between the orange of the rock and the blue of Jason's shirt, and she'd just been about to ask me to take this picture so she could use it to paint from. I guess the fact that we both saw something means that there was something there.
Jason got to help his mom make the cupcakes for his birthday party on Saturday. I imagine that it won't be too terribly long before he stops wanting to help do anything--in any case, when it happens it won't feel like much time has passed--but for now he's still young enough that being a "helper" is a treat.