Shakespeare Comes To My House

Last night, against all odds, me, Seth, and Owen made to see Actors From the London Stage in “The Tempest”. The performance was in Wellesley, far, far from where we live, and it was rush hour. I spent most of the day devising a plan, and this was it: Owen skipped soccer practice and we picked up a meatball sub and a pizza for dinner on our way to Seth’s freshman soccer team game. He was playing of course, in a town not particularly near Wellesley, but we went out there and watched them win, and then, people, we got on the highway. I’d printed out a regular map and a campus map, and had the information written down. (Perhaps you’ve guessed this already, but I don’t get out much. Also, I don’t know how to work the GPS.) I am happy to say that we made it in plenty of time, got really good seats, and despite some sibling bickering* (I eventually had to sit in the middle of them), had a lovely evening at the theater. There were just five actors, each playing multiple parts, at which they were amazing, the music was ethereal and gorgeous, and the whole thing was just brilliant. You felt yourself to be in such good hands with these actors, they were so skilled at what they were doing, so obviously in love with the language and the story.

This morning I had to walk the dog kind of early since Tex is out of town and I’m bachelorette-ing it. By the time I got back, the boys were awake and I didn’t have time to do my devotional reading or have a tiny moment of meditation. So I was a little off kilter, and then the boys bickered* again and then I had to go to work and when I got back, Owen was on this whole tear of speaking in a really silly English accent, and Seth was saying things like, “Owen, come hither!” and then bickering* with him and I was getting grumpier and grumpier. And then I realized that they had been inspired by Shakespeare, just as I was when I was a kid and first saw “As You Like It” – the language, the language! So I took a deep cleansing breath and let them have at it, congratulating myself on energy very well spent last night on our big adventure. Here’s to many more!

You taught me language; and my profit on’t
Is, I know how to curse.
–Caliban, Act I, scene ii, The Tempest

*fisticuffs and snarling

Published in: on October 22, 2011 at 9:00 PM  Leave a Comment  
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I’ve been sad and upset lately, angry and frustrated by the reality of divorced parenting. I feel very strongly that now is the time to gather Seth closely in as he gets used to being at his huge public high school and looks for ways to engage with the world meaningfully. I don’t mean, “You can’t date and never may you spend time with friends!” but rather being solidly there for him and directing him, as best as we can, through the morass of adolescence.

For example, there’s a youth group at our UU church where I’m pretty sure he could find some good friends, as well as get the chance to play music that doesn’t involve the more competitive and possibly out-of-reach options at the high school. The problem is that communication between me and Olivia (my ex)* is tricky, and as the boys grow older and have more agency, I’ve let a lot of it go in a big way.

But things get lost in the cracks. If Olivia doesn’t know that I think Seth should go to a particular youth group meeting because they’re discussing music, then she won’t push him to go (as shy, sometimes anxious guys sometimes needs to be pushed), and that’s one more nail in that coffin in that he hasn’t had a chance to get to know the music-y youth group kids. The trouble with parenting with a person you’re divorced from is, surprise! you don’t usually get along or agree on the best path for your kids.

I used to always say that Olivia and I agree on the most important things, the health and happiness of our kids. That is true, and I am grateful that she loves them and cares for them as much as she does. However, it’s a great disappointment and struggle that our interpretations of “health” and “happiness” differ so greatly. Seth was at Olivia’s the day of that youth group meeting, and he  didn’t go. I know it’s a small thing. But there are so many small things like it.

This morning, Seth had to get up early to go to band. I woke up even earlier, made some breakfast, made some lunches, puttered around, woke Seth up. You never know with a 15-year old, but this morning he was relaxed and mild. He ate breakfast (sometimes he storms out without it), he sipped on his fennel tea, quizzically informing me that it tasted like dirt, which made me laugh. Bang goes another attempt to find him a licorice tea he likes!

Our morning together – less than ½ an hour – was made up of moments like that. He needed sweatpants. I found some hiding in a drawer. I made sure he had bus fare to get to and from soccer practice. He wanted to wait 6 minutes before I drove him over to school, so we sat in the living room and the cat got on his lap. I asked him about his new cats at Olivia’s house and mentioned Nanny, the dog in Peter Pan. We drove off into an amazing sunrise and I couldn’t stop looking at the sky. I told him about our friend’s little boys in France who are yearning for Halloween (which they don’t do over there) and we hatched a plan to treat them to some candy from afar.

As I drove home after dropping him at the high school maw, there were tears in my eyes. I just went slowly and let the good wash over me. Olivia and I don’t work well together, that is just the way it is. If I concentrate on all of that shit, I won’t be able to appreciate these other, small, delicious, cozy moments with my boys where our blessing and the okayness of our family make themselves known. And guess what? It tastes like dirt. Not so much “pay dirt”, but “down in the dirt”, the dirt where things are nurtured, where they gather the strength and knowledge to come out, gorgeous, questing, alive, into the light.

*my little bloggy conceit is she has a different pseudonym almost every time I write about her

Published in: on October 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM  Leave a Comment