Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pasts and Predators

While the kids were in Religious School this morning, I took a walk. One of my walking partners is no longer at the synagogue on Sunday mornings; my other was tied up in all-morning meetings with various committees. I needed to move, so I gave my kisses to my friend and excuses to those trying to get me to join their meetings, and headed out.

A coffee and breakfast burrito later, I made a right turn off a main street onto a road I didn't think I'd ever been on before...until I saw the Gymboree sign, and that sign's neighbors, and realized, holy shit. I hadn't thought about this place for about a dozen years. We didn't go sososo often, and I can't even remember who we went with. But we did go for a while, Em and I, sometimes Em and her nanny, A, and Baroy even, a couple of times. When she was an infant, maybe toddler, no more, because by the time she was 'more,' I had another full-time job, and whatever various Mommy and Me programs we'd been doing were impossibilities.

It was odd, standing in my present and looking into my only dimly remembered past. It was odder still because this is a neighborhood I know almost as well as my own, now, six years into our membership at this synagogue, six years into Sunday-morning walks up and down its streets, six years into driving these streets to spend time with our chaverim from shul. And yet I'd never made this turn, onto this street, which in my mind was way south from my present location, a strip mall in the past, not the for-rent sign of today. I stood there for a long time, trying to remember, feeling a little rueful about what the passage of time has done to my ability to recall more than gut emotions, no real faces or names.

Eventually, I moved on, heading up the hill. A garage sale, a for-sale sign, a dead-end street (and that was one long uphill for no good reason, damn it). And then a left turn onto another street, looking down at my iPhone as I checked to be sure my photo of the Gymboree had posted. And looking up just in time, to see threemaybefour coyotes sitting in a perfectly spaced row, as they turned toward me and stared.

I made eye contact, then thought, "Um, no. Not a good idea." And I turned, heading down the hill away from them, quickly, quickly, looking back only to check to be sure they hadn't decided to see where I was going. Because while one coyote would be unlikely to be capable of really taking me down, three? That could have been ugly, is what I'm saying.

Now, a better writer or deeper thinker than I could probably link those two events right now, with the coyotes symbolizing...what? If I knew, I'd make the link, and wrap this post up in a pretty little significant bow. Instead, I'll leave you with this: Now that I'm home, unsnackedupon, I keep thinking that I should have grabbed an Instagram shot of those hungry, mangy-looking beasts instead of a boring old strip mall. A real artist would have.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Still OK

This is what it's like to be the mom of a special-needs boy:

I park the car in the usual spot, which is about a block uphill from the school. This allows me to get out of the area easily after I walk him to The Stairs, rather than getting stuck in the carpool dropoff line. (My boy? Not so much into the dropoff line.) As I pull over, I notice a few kids--including a boy from N's class--walking down the hill from their homes.

"Do you mind if I just wait until M passes to open the car door, Mommy?" N asks.

And just like that. Heart in my throat. Why is he afraid to open the door as this boy passes? What is that little fucker doing to him? Is it physical? Or just name-calling?

We wait the 30 second until the boy and his friends are past, at which point N opens his door and hops out, all smiles. I'm less smiley.

"N," I say in a quiet, confidential voice as we begin to walk toward the school, a good 20 yards behind the child whose back is being stabbed by the arrows shooting from my eyes. "What does M do to you?"

He looks genuinely confused. "Do to me?"

"Why didn't you want to open the door when he was walking past? Is he threatening you? Making fun of you? Hurting you?"

"Uh, NO!" he said, with real vehemence. "I'm shy of him. I didn't want to have to say good morning, or walk in front of him or next to him. I like being behind better."

If he were a kid who understood sarcasm just a little better, he would instead have simply stuck his hand out and said, "HELLO? Have you MET me?"

Of course. This was about N, not M (who, isn't a little fucker, it turns out, and sorry about the arrows in your back, kiddo).

You'd think I would have known. You'd think.

So, in case you were wondering? School's going just fine. Everything is still OK. Once Mommy got her head out of her ass, that is.