Kindergrowler

After our beagle burst back inside from barking at those mean old thorny bushes again, he dug right into and upended the fabric bin that Allie had filled with every rope and bone she’d extracted from under the couches. This tidying up had served as her final act during the ending credits of a temper tantrum, filed under Allie’s Greatest Fits, over an ice cream trip to McDonald’s that no one had mentioned but had popped so persuasively into her brain. Since she was already flat on the floor she could see just where to train the broomstick Mama must’ve handed her for just this purpose.

Some of the things she said during this fit, a minute of which was filmed for kicks: “I’m gonna get rid of Oliver and I’m gonna get rid of Mama.” “I’m gonna tape your mouth shut.” That puts the little note she left for me this morning into a rather different context, doesn’t it?

Nah, she’s a sweet kid. She unleashes her Heavenly Creatures id and moves on with her life, taking her shower and brushing her chompers for Mama without complaint while I host my Comp II seminar downstairs. Students from Baltimore to East Texas overhear not shouting and slamming but laughing and rambling.

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Sunday Aimless Sunday

And here opens up a Sunday without a purpose. Excited? You know that Sunday I spent with a Moleskin at Goose Park scratching out notes for a critical essay on Wuthering Heights while Kid One was in daycare now characterizes the later years of my academic study of literature: spirited and reckless. Writing just as much to get away with every weird point that sprung upon my overread brain as to penetrate the mysteries of the centerless text. So today what has happened is that I woke up thinking about the latest trio of discussion boards I am contractually bound to say hello to while instead just diving with my coffee into a new novel before getting up to whack the weeds while Kid Two swung under a tree in the opposite yard. But wait, it couldn’t have been a Sunday at Goose Park because what daycare is open on a Sunday? Still, the feeling is real; thus a Sunday it was.

I was going to say something about why the space in which I wrote after our first life in Ann Arbor, A Hideous Title, only survived the two or three years that we spent in Lansing…and how that space was the next and final step in that literary tomfoolery…but then Kid One asked if she could cook up some Mac N Cheese. This hallowed dish that she used to pronounce with a toddler emphasis bordering on the sinister (MAC N CHEESE) she is now (finally) able to make for herself without catching its box on fire. So while that train of thought started up, Kid One, waiting for the water to boil, stood around in the kitchen making her random noises in response to whatever the hell was on her phone.

Generally, this honor’s-roll 12-year-old has two modes while at home: Grumpy-Butt and Random. While one assumes her emotional range is rich and her mental state complex, her outward bipolarity can have the effect of renewing the old philosophical question: How can I be certain that another being, separate from myself and distinctly beyond the reach of my own subjectivity, does in fact experience pain or joy like I know I do? Though it is heartening to know that she does not require a smartphone or tablet to go Random.

She will, on a Saturday night, audibly narrate in her quiet bedroom something about which I have zero knowledge but to which I can compare the performances I have myself made, such as when I brought some literary theory (Chaucer and the Subject of History?) to my dad’s between five and ten years ago. The way he yelled upstairs to ask if I’d figured out how to turn on the jets of the new tub I was sitting in made me pretty sure he wanted me to shut the hell up. Indeed, in my late twenties, I was too old for such stentorian gibber-jabber. I’d forgotten to respect the other’s headspace…but now my daughter, blurting out there in the kitchen, announces that she is shutting the door. Headspace restored.