I find myself, before my morning cup of tea has even had time to cool, standing in the kitchen with a sobbing two year old. His round little shoulders jerking with excess emotion, and tears running freely down his face, even dripping off his cheeks. He had hit his little brother on the head with a bumblebee shaped maraca and the ensuing punishment- seperation from all instruments and playmates- has thrown him neatly over the edge of emotional control.
But really, that had not been all.
It had already been one of those mornings with Zeke. One of those mornings that don't wait for your tea to cool. A "very hard day" as he would say himself. First he had to get his night diaper taken off even though he was "too busy". He wanted to wear his train sweater, but his train sweater was dirty, one sleeve coated in peanut butter from the day before. He chose to have a bagel for breakfast, but we found outselves out of bagels and so he found himself facing the choice between applesauce and toast, or oatmeal...two distinctly unappatizing options as he was sure to let me know. And then his brother, oh his brother! He broke the trains! And then he was following him! And then, inspired by the devil himself no doubt, and in an attemp to ruin all chances of brotherly peace forever, he had the audacity to touch lightning mcqueen!
Really the mishap with the Bee-Bop Band had been the last straw.
"I need a bandaid!" he wailed, between hard sucking in breaths.
And contemplating that not all injuries are ones of torn flesh or fragmented bone I take a testing sip of tea, and then a greater one, and then I went to the bathroom to retrieve the requested cure.
A patch for my sons bruised heart.
I very seriously administered the remedy onto his chin, following his shaking finger to the offending spot. "Is there anything else I can do to help you?" I ask him. And he thinks for a second, chest still heaving.
"I want you to sing mommy songs and do the dishes."
"You want me to sing mommy songs and do the dishes?" I repeat, even though I know he hates when I parrot him back like this, as if I dont understand his words.
But he is patient, and he nods.
"Do you want me to bring you a chair to sit in?" I ask and he nods again.
When I bring it, his tears start anew and he moans, "I cant get up!"
But I lift him onto the chair and turn towards the sink and the almost permanent pile of dishes that can be found in any mother's kitchen.
I start to sing mommy songs. All the songs I've been singing since my kids were tiny babes and the songs I've been singing since even before that. The Beatles and Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and Ella Fitzgerand and so many hymns both old and new. I start with "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", because I know he loves it, and move onto "I'd Rather be an Old-time Christian" after that. I peek him calming down out of the corner of my eye as I place the (now clean) mixing bowl onto the drying rack and go into "The Folsom Prison Blues", "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Across The Universe" in quick sucession. I sing "Cry Me A River" before remembering that Mal is my jazz lover, not Zeke. Zeke loves the old southern hymns best and so I start to sing "I'll Fly Away" and by the time I'm onto "That Old Rugged Cross" and the last cast-iron
skillet, I can hear that Zeke is singing along.
I stop singing and close the dishwasher. Im thinking about the healing salve of music, and company. The peace and safety in the knowledge that the world chugs on, despite personal turmoil and pain. I'm thinking about my youngest son, who's happy playing sounds I've been hearing from the playroom all this 45 minutes or so and my husband who's at work "in
the city" as Zeke has begun to call our downtown area.
Lost in all these thoughts I hear from the chair that's been placed in the middle of my kitchen, "I was putting my shoes on this morning and it was really hard. But I didn't give up."
"I know, I was so proud of you."
"Im gonna go play." he says as he jumps from his chair, running to join his brother. A smile on his face, despite the tears that have not quite dried.
I go upstairs to get dressed, no shower for me today, Malachi will need me any second now. He averages an hour of play-alone time a day and my hour is running out fast. But there is a smile on my face too, because I've been reminded why I took up this job in the first place.