Tuesday, August 19, 2014
What Do You Do with Quiet?
Listen to that...hushed stillness...not a noise except the birds outside calling to each other in the trees around our house and the buzz of the insect trapped in the light fixture. Look, not a movement save my own fingers pecking away at the keyboard. When did the clock tick so loudly or the fridge make such commotion? It is all still and quiet. I like it but it is so strange.
Many parents report this phenomenon the first day of school but few mean it in the same way that I do. I can always hear traces of Isaac. He is noise. He is motion. In perpetuality. There has not been an instant during the last few weeks and months that the house has been absent the sound of his back rocking against the soft back of the cushioned couch or the hard wood of his seat at the kitchen table accompanied by his incessant hum, hum, humming. The downstairs ceiling bounces and creaks under the constant jumping from his bedroom. Those sounds are harmonized with the call of Veggie Tale songs on good days and screaming crys on those days where he is frustrated. The house still seems to echo those words he repeats over and over and over, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow is. Tomorrow is First Day. Just one. Present. Tomorrow. Tomorrow."
What a blessing is the quiet. What a joy to hear the wind blow through the trees in the front yard. For three months, Isaac has given us the moment by moment play by play of our day. "Tomorrow morning. Oatmeal." "Good afternoon. Lunch." "Dinner." "Tomorrow. Patrick" "Tomorrow. Tonya" "Tomorrow. Mom and Dad Tomorrow" "State Park. Hike and Drive. Come out and play." "Big Smile" "Sunday School. Tomorrow" Those were the good days. The bad days brought inconsolable screams as he poked his finger in his eye, "Sad. Why you sad?" "Very upset." "You must calm down." The good days brought goofy smiles and the bad days brought aggressive tantrums. But always, always, always...there was noise and motion.
I trained my ears to hear his feet coming down the stairs towards our exits. I perked up whenever I heard any of the children raise their voices, trying to ascertain in a decibel the status of every child. Were they all ok? Was Isaac upset? Was he escalating as he heard another child in a bad mood? Did any of them need help? Harmless childhood antics threw me into malease and paranoia.
I trained my eyes to note any and all movement towards doors and appliances. Where was he? Where was he going? How many apples had he had today? How many bananas? Was there any glass container in the peanut butter cabinet? Where were the dogs? Was he going to let them out? Was he going to walk out? Does he have on his brace? Its too hot for him outside with it on. Where is he sitting? Are there ants out there? Is he ok? Is he going to the bathroom? Has he taken himself to the bathroom already and do I need to clean him up?
I was constantly aware of his needs. I shepherded him through all of his bathroom runs and made sure he was wiped and clean. I helped him wash the oil off of his face at least twice a day. Had he picked a scab? I was there with the prescription antibiotic so the wound would not infect from his constant need to reopen it. I watched to see if his pants had fallen past his hips and if his brace was in the proper position to hold his back as straight as it could.
I took him with me whenever I went to the restroom and handed him a magazine. I could not trust him for a moment unsupervised. He would occasionally look my way and tell me about bathroom etiquette. "We poo poo in the potty." "If you have to go potty, stop and go right away." "Yea. Good job." Play by play. There are not words for that.
I did not shower when he was awake. How could I?
I am the grown up. I must be ever vigilant. Anything can and might come up. The terrible times are when he comes and says "Broken" and hurriedly leads me upstairs to his room. I pray to the good Lord that it is something I can fix. Maybe something came unplugged. There was the one wretched day when his computer fizzled and almost fried. By God's grace, I fixed it. There is nothing to explain its operation other than God's pity on me as I sat with all the pieces of the motherboard scattered all over Isaac's bed and then trying to stuff them back in to the box in a way that would this time work.
But now....quiet. Still. What do you do with quiet and still? I long for it and devour its peace but I cannot bring peace to my inner self. My ears still perk at the slightest sound. The high pitch of the bird's call outside has set me in a panic over and over again. My eyes still scan for movement. I try to sooth my spirit and embrace the quiet peaceful afternoon. I hush my hurried mind that is already preparing for Isaac's return from school. I purposefully push away knowing thoughts of the long term consequences of living in an ever vigilant state. For now, I sit and type and listen to the quiet.