Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Miss You..."


The sun is finally shining, and the thermometer has inched its way up to a whopping 35 degrees [Farenheit; in sixth grade math we "allegedly" are learning to convert Farehnheit to Celsius, but I am not that dedicated; I haven't converted to the metric system either; so there!].

A minor observation I have made is that in cases of prolonged Indoor-itis, many incidents that would ordinarily sail through the grid of everyday life seem to get 'hung up'--and magnified.

For example, last night for the third time, Miss Cee broke down into chin-trembling [yes, truly heartstring-vibrating] tears; first the smooth cheeks flushed and got patchy; then the inordinately large blue eyes were swimming with tears, and then they began to fall, hot and fast. The Usual Suspect [also known as John] was innocently flopped in a chair, intent on his current DS Mario Brothers game.

What is going on?

"It's just that I miss Daddy so much!!"

Well, he only left 10 minutes ago, and he told you goodbye, and he's going to a meeting and should be back in an hour and a half.

"I kn-kn-know...but, I c-c-can't help it. I just w-w-want him to be h-h-here..."

Unhelpful Comment from Sibling Who Is Not Gifted With Compassion: "Cecily, just get over it! Dad's coming home, and you know it. You're just doing this for attention!"

But, to a shrewd maternal eye, this emotion looked all too real.

"Well, B-B-Bennnny's not even here..."

Snarky Speaker Referenced Above: "Gee! Maybe that's because Ben is at work and hasn't cloned himself yet!"

After explaining that we don't need any Maxine-character wannabes on the premises and dispatching the heckler to further frontiers, I tried again to get to the bottom of this ennui...

"I just can't help it-I try to tell myself that Daddy will be home soon-but I know he's not here now-and then I try to put a picture of him in my mind to look at-but then it is not really him-and then I just get so s-s-s-ad..."

Well, after hugs and soft words and being awarded the coveted place on the sofa next to moi, Miss Cee was somewhat mollifed...enough, in fact, to allow her mind to wander into Pantry Provinces...

"M-Mom, do you think we might have any Girl Scout Th-Thin Mints left?"

That answer to THAT query, of course, is really a factor of familial self control, but fortunately, we discovered an entire unopened foil sleeve.

I recount all this not to put the proverbial eye to the keyhole, since most families experience some variations on this theme. But it occurred to me that I was probably witnessing one of those 'emotional baton hand-offs' --- I think human life encompasses an ongoing series of these:

We can't imagine what the first child will be like when s/he is still in utero. Then we get to the point of leaving the tiny bundle with a trusted babysitter in order to refamiliarize ourselves with our mate and use an actual fork. Baby is oblivious to our absence for a certain period of time, but we miss the little sprout so much, we hurry home ahead of time. Gotta grab that baton back! Fast forward a few years, and we're trying to unpeel sticky little hands from around our thighs as we inch toward the door.

We hand the baton off as we actually turn our back and leave them in a classroom on the first day of kindergarten...and on and on it goes through the various seasons and chapters of life. Ready or not, each generation grasps and passes on the baton until a new generation comes around.

At a high school graduation party last year, a sage grandmother cradled a newborn grandson and looked up at me with knowing eyes: "Did you know you go through the Empty Nest twice?", she asked. I looked back at her older grandson whose diploma and tassel were on display by the sheetcake...and I knew what she meant.

Your own kids move on and out, as they are meant to do, and then many times a similar pattern-one generation removed-repeats with the grandchildren...who also give and take the baton...

So, there was Miss Cee, tearfully reaching for the baton that her dad could not hand over until he returned home within the next hour. These moments, poignant as they are, probably are healthful...they are little trial runs of separation, and--I've noticed-- things that are healthful quite often are not pleasant.

Maybe the worst of it is so many of these transitions steal away unnoticed until we're brought up short at a major milestone. Or maybe a tender parental heart couldn't weather too many episodes of such awareness...

But I noticed this one, and just thought I'd share it with you...

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