Wednesday, July 02, 2008

eight-year-old muse

Brendan the Beautiful is sweeping the floor while belting out Singing in the Rain for the nine millionth time. He pops in to ask if sweeping can be rewarded with cash, and I say “no, but it needs to be done.” Like me, he is not consistent with cleaning, but once he’s thought of a project, he will complete it. Besides, sweeping will provide a backdrop to singing and tap-dancing. He pops in with a second idea and a third to garner him more allowance money: nope. He takes my response cheerfully, and offers to clean the kitty litter box anyway.

This is the third day it’s been just Brendan and me, while Madeleine is at Arts Camp. Monday he was utterly lost, though this “quiet summer” was his idea. He lounged upside down on the couch, begged me to go get things for him, glanced at book after book without getting involved in any of them, complained when I “forced” him to eat breakfast and lunch. He interrupted my work and complained for a day. Yesterday we completed some errands and he agreed to sort baseball cards at the Tea Shoppe, so I could attend my writing group. When we returned home, he constructed an elaborate city on the floor, made of blocks and train tracks. He didn’t want to leave it, hours later. Then miraculously, while I was reading my homework, he reported he’d cleaned it all up “because I didn’t really want to play with it anymore.” Am I dreaming? No, he's still being very pester-y for too much of the day. But not now. Right now he's a dream.

He needs these hours to be in charge of himself and his own imagination. He knows that. But it’s taken this many days for him to grasp hold of it for himself. He slowly unwinds in the quiet hours, each day a little more. He wanted to try cooking, today, so he grilled kielbasa rounds while I did my magazine work at the kitchen table. He wants to make a little money: I’ve devised a few chores he can complete, folding socks and towels. We need to figure out picnic options for a dinner at Madeleine’s camp. We might go to the beach when the tide is right. Meanwhile, he is humming and wielding the broom, self-motivated, and I am reading the second book of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Now he’s put on a CD of salsa music to clean by— I know I said “no” to paying him. But I will devise some reward to surprise him, later today, because I'm madly in love with his concentration and contentment, and because he's letting me get my work done. For now I stay out of his way and let him follow his cleaning and dancing muse.

For now I am very, very lucky. Off to my books.


Denise said...

When left to his own devices, the boy is thorough. He bows and says "thanks, broom" as he places the broom back in the closet. The salsa has passed and a storm cloud rolls in, so Singing in the Rain, it is.

Denise said...

As he clogs around the porch in the downpour, his orange Crocs flying, it occurs to me I've not had a moment alone in this whole live-long day, and I read through my moments alone yesterday.

I grab the roll of duct tape, the blessed broom, and haul the dryer out from the wall. Please don't remind me how long I've been avoiding the dreaded dryer vent repair. I hate this task because it comes undone so easily. but there is more to life than reading. There's also laundry, so the boy will have a towel to dry off with. I push the dryer back to the wall. I find my water shoes and pass the closet door with a "thanks, broom."

Time to sing. It's a good hard rain.

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

having family is a wonderful gift in my life - and a revel in your joy of being a mom.

Linda Buturian said...


My 9 year old goes from playing the guitar to bored and swimming in the pool with neighbors to bored and back to the guitar. But today i didn't want to make lunch, I just wanted to transplant that sweet hidden red budded wonder an old lady gave me, so i suggested Audrey and her cousin make a cafe and i'll be there customer. An hour later, plant in rich dirt, "Maggie, Mimi, and Mich" handed me a menu with appetizers, drinks, breakfasts, lunch and dinner items. Order pad, aprons, music on, robot sandwhiches and drinks wheeled over on the rolling chair. Happiness.

i like your writing and thanks for linking Great Bird.

Linda Buturian

Denise said...

Projects-- summer is all about projects! I'm a little shocked he picked a cleaning project, but okay.

We'll get to the ugly b-word soon, I'm sure.

Greetings, Linda. Welcome!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Denise said...

Hi previous anonymous commenter-- I wasn't sure how to read your statement, whether you were being genuine or sarcastic. Please get back to me sometime, if you get the chance.