Susan's Blog

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Beauty of the Beast

This morning I was the first up. While going through email and Bloglines, I heard Ben’s light and quick footsteps skipping down the stairs. “Hey Mom,” he said, “You know how I know you’re down here?”
“How, Baby?” It is a miracle to me that he lets me call him that. I also call him “Beast,” with his full approval.
“I can see your reflection in the picture there,” he said, referring to the large photograph in the front hall, which captures light from the Palladian window on the central staircase and also my image, even though I’m tucked away in a windowseat in the livingroom. Only Ben would notice such a thing.

I didn’t know he looked for me in the mornings like that. I felt immensely flattered. Do you ever feel flattered by a loved one’s attention? Certainly we take it for granted most of the time, but every now and then I can tune in and feel it and bask in it. Ben is such a prickly creature, seeminly unsentimental and unto himself, a true Aries, a little mountain goat making his way stubbornly up and down craggy cliffs, thinking his own thoughts. When he has a playdate, as he did yesterday, with Eliot, the new kid, I always worry that it will go awry because Benj is so strong about what he wants to do. I fear arguments, interventions. I fear having to play with the other kid at a time of day when I’m really tired (3 p.m., prime nap time if Max is home to babysit which he never is anymore because he is now in high school, sigh) I fear Benj being lonely because no one will want to play with him.

But my fears are usually for naught. I don’t learn from this experience, however; when do I ever learn from an experience, for God’s sake? I still worry, every time. But Eliot and Ben tumbled into the car and right away I knew it would be okay because Eliot had a strong and quirky personality with enough sweetness to take care of the rest. He started going on and on about getting enough money to buy a horse (poor guy lives in an apartment, but never mind!). I listened gratefully to the prattle as I drove home slowly (Eliot’s grandmother was following us in her car so that she’d know where we live for pick-up time). The two boys burst into the house, and ran upstairs to Ben’s room immediately to play Legos. They only surfaced later for a snack (popcorn, chosen by Eliot, and juice mixtures, courtesy of Ben). Perfect playdate.

Yet at the end of the two hours, sure enough, I heard Ben say, “Well, I’m going to draw now,” and he went off to make a pad story. Ben is amazingly prolific. We have stacks and stacks of pad stories in every room downstairs (diningroom, livingroom — despite my best efforts — and playroom), Suess-like tall piles of pads curving over precariously, leaning against other books of his. He has to draw. He is driven to draw. And the stuff he does blows my mind sometimes. He drew a picture of a cannibal being shot, from the book Robinson Crusoe, which he is slowly reading. The picture reminded me of the Guernica. The cannibal’s body was thrown back, his head and foot twisted to the side in pain, the muscles in his body taut. Only the mouth of the gun was showing, not the shooter. I want to scan it and show it to you but it turns out his teacher has it!

Ben is a delightful child but also a pain in the ass. He is demanding, exhausting, funny, adorable, and every once in a while, he will show me his soft side (only me) by letting me kiss him and by seeking me out when he has a bad dream. And by looking for me in the reflective glass early in the morning, for no reason or to share a new idea with me.

Miracles are all around; I think the miracle is most tangible when we actually tune in enough to feel their wonder.

(Ben in the vacation house.)


I laughed out loud when I read this sentence:

“Ben is a delightful child but also a pain in the ass.”

Because I have a Ben of my own, and he sounds a lot like yours 😀

— added by Mum is Thinking on Saturday, September 16, 2006 at 10:21 am

There are many delightful children who are also a pain in the ass. 🙂 It’s wonderful to have one.

— added by Julia on Friday, November 3, 2006 at 12:21 pm

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