ee oo ah ah -
There's not much to evaporate around here lately. I'm making headway into raking up the tons of leaves in the backyard, but that's about it, as far as domestic accomplishment is concerned. Soon I'll be mowing the grass, and then spraying water seal onto the last of the pickets on the fence around what used to be the pool area. Then I'll rake some more. Amy will get home from school and we'll revel in Friday, the homework-free afternoon, the first flop onto the weekend cushion.
While being a parent may appear to be a glamorous thrill on the outside, it's the interior workings that give it the satisfaction I've become so fond of. I've mentioned here in the past, perhaps too much, the bonus that raising a disabled child brings to the work of parenting, and I think I'm about to mention it again.
All her life, Amy has been on the shy side, as you might expect from a kid like her, but for almost a year now she's been involved in the after-school drama club and this has done a lot toward bringing her out of her timidity. On Wednesday evening, her troupe of thespians gave a performance of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book -- a version which had very little to do with Kipling, almost nothing to do with a book, and involved a jungle only because someone had an artificial ficus that they brought from home to decorate the stage. The kids were in animal costumes, however, and they did retain the names Mr. Kipling used.
Amy was a monkey. An impulsive girl by nature, she inhabited the character rather purely, keeping the fourth wall intact not through any Stanislavskian feat but simply because she was immersed in fun monkeyness with her pals.
The audience, dozens strong, was made up mostly of parents of the actors, and, like me, they were brimming with pride over their progeny. There is, however, a mechanism within me which self-activates, you might even say detonates, whenever I see my kid do something like this, and it gives me the feeling of being different. I'll run a little movie in my head, a short reel. It's got the hospital footage showing the tubes that went into her at two days old, quick cuts through the countless hours of physical therapy, slow-motion scenes of milestones passed, months or years late, smiles from a girl in a swing, brain scans, blood tests, and the glances, how many hundreds of glances from grown-ups and kids sizing her up, wondering what's the matter with her. If you were to look at me as the movie plays, it might seem as if I'm not paying attention. But I am.
There's a strange pride that comes with being a parent of a disabled kid, and we generally keep that feeling hidden and talk about it only with our own kind. Like war veterans. That's because it's boring, probably, and we wouldn't want to seem like someone who walks up to strangers, lifts his shirt, and says, "Hey, guess how I got this scar."
So I keep a journal. I just sit here with my shirt up and let you poke around. Nothing unusual about that, right?
Okay, maybe I was wrong. Maybe there's a lot to evaporate around here.
I'm going to try to squeeze in a mini photo safari sometime this weekend. Something near downtown LA maybe. I'm feeling a need for non-verbal expression.
"The Long And Winding Road" -- The Beatles -- 1
"Until thy feet
have trod the Road
- Rudyard Kipling (The Comforters, 1890)