Bees in the Bathroom
There’s a bee in the bathroom. He’s dead, and he’s next to the cabinet, on the floor. The bathroom’s been cleaned, but the bee remains. The first time I noticed the bee was was a few months ago. I asked my brother-in-law, who’s been living with us for a while, to clean the bathroom, and when he’d finished, and the bee was still there, I said “you didn’t clean the bathroom, look at that dead bee, it’s still right there on the floor.” (Yes, I’m a dream to live with.) The next person who cleaned the bathroom was me, but I left the bee. I can’t say why I left the bee, but I left it there on the floor. It’s yellow was just as yellow. The next person who cleaned the bathroom was Dave, and when he was through, the bee remained. I didn’t chastise him for it, because after all I’d left the bee, too.
For a while there were just bees in the bathroom. I don’t know where they were coming from. Maybe from the window, or just as likely up through the drain. I found one crawling out of the sink one time. I texted my landlord “there’s bees in the bathroom,” but he said they’re probably coming in through the window. I texted back “they’re coming up through the drain, there’s probably a hive embedded in the wall of the house.” He never got back to me after that.
This is the last bee of the late summer warmth that permeated into fall. I’m pretty sure no one notices the bee anymore, but me. I sweep the floor, but let the bee be.
I don’t quite know why the clock radio went out of style. The kind with the numbers that flapped between one time and the next. The kind with the little knobs that switched between am and fm, alarm and off and on. The kind with a smooth npr voice gently and calmly letting you in on the news and ideas if the day, all the things you missed while sleeping. This is how I learned that Ella Fitzgerald died, and Jerry Garcia.
It was right around the time I got my first iPhone that my clock radio died, and I didn’t replace it. I’d had a steady stream of clock radios, but in 2009 I downloaded a clock radio app. The app sucked, so I got a new one, and a new one after that. I could never justify a new clock radio after I got the app. The app couldn’t wake me up with a local broadcast though, no weather report to help me get out the door. Instead it brought me international stations. For a while it seemed kind of interesting and eclectic to wake to the sounds of Nairobi radio. But it was too distracting and not helpful. I had to save Nairobi radio for the weekends, and I don’t tend to use an alarm on weekends. So the amazing clock radio app was out, and now I just use the built in iPhone alarm. It sucks, but it’s there, unlike the clock radio.
In the mornings I wake up with C, who at some point during the night managed to climb into our bed, crawl between my husband and I, and take up all the pillows. When the sun breaks through the curtains, he sits up and say “the sun came out, and I have all my energy back.” We get up, and I get us ready for the day. I pop in a waffle, pour some juice, make sure he gets to the potty on time, pick out some clothes.
It was only recently that I realized that the era of my doing everything for the child is over, that I had to end it, to make a clean break, before he was suddenly 18 and I was picking up his dirty socks from under his bed. C is not one of those “I can do it myself” kids. It’s pretty clear to him that if he let’s me feed him, dress him, pick up his toys, that he’ll be free to do as he pleases, without interruption. I’ve been very quickly turning the tables on him: asking him, no, telling him to pull together his own clothes, put the discarded ones in the hamper, get his juice, and pour it. It turns out that it’s way harder to make a kid do for himself than it is to just do it for him. This morning he cried when I told him to find his own shoes. He whimpered when I told him to take off his own socks. He threw himself on the floor when I made him take off his own pajama pants. When I said “doesn’t it feel better to zip up your own Flash shirt?” And he looked at me like I was a crazy person before reluctantly saying “yeah.”
It’s easier to say “yes.”
Dave and I were raised way differently. Growing up, he had lots of freedom to do as he pleased. His parents seem to have taken a non-interventionist approach. He did well in school, which in alot of ways was the main guiding factor for many parents of our parents generation, and was thus enabled to set his own boundaries, his own limits. After a certain point, he made his own meals, and set his own schedule.
I, on the other hand, grew up with my dad and step-mom. These two were exceedingly strict, each for their own reasons. At 14, my curfew was 6 pm. I was responsible for a slew of household chores, and I was often grounded for some reason or other. I moved in with my mom by 16, and there were a different set of rules and expectations after that, but the groundwork was laid, I was the product of a strict upbringing. Lucky for my mom and step-dad that they got ot be on hand while I pushed back at all those boundaries, even though they hadn’t been the ones to set them down in the first place.
I refer back to these early rules quite a bit, and I’m pretty sure I say “no” way more than Dave.
C: Can I watch a show?
Me: Not right now, in 10 minutes.
(Although to be fair, lately Dave has taken to saying “go play with your analog toys.”)
C: Can I have chocolate?
Me: After supper.
Dave: Ask mommy.
Dave figures the kid will do what the kid’s gonna do. I figure we have to teach him all the really important things: patience, delayed gratification, diligence, hard work, determination, and mostly, thinking through the ramifications and potential outcomes of any choice before it is taken, to know your mind, and your heart, before you act.
It doesn’t seem like it to C, but what I’m doing here is putting him first. I’m thinking of the tools future C will need in life, the ones that he won’t even know he had until he needs them, until reaches into his toolbox and finds that the patience he was looking for is right there under his fingertips, that the ability to careful consider options had been there all along. It makes me think of my mom, whose greatest guilty pleasure is to have the exact right tool for a given job at te exact moment when it is needed. Hair pin? The right earrings? The worlds smallest Phillips head screwdriver? A large, rubber mallet? She’s got it, right when you need it.
I’ve been working on a new play. I started it when we got home from our Christmas travels. Most of my writing time has been spent on that, and writing a new play for Sticky, and expanding a piece called Puff Puff, that’s going to be part of the F-Off (Festival of the Offensive) in late spring. I’ve taken some notes on blog posts, things I wanted to write about but never became quite long enough. These three seem linked somehow.