The Second law

Dear J-

There are many reasons to be mad at the situation but what are you going to do instead? There’s a thousand ways to lash out and hurt other people so instead you try to keep it neatly bottled up inside even though that’s the last thing, the very last thing you really want. I think of Gillian Flynn’s Nick, of Gone Girl: trained to be unfailingly polite (would he say in response to a car accident, hey, I think I might have gotten some paint on your car that just crashed into me?) in every situation and yet … and yet. Is that enough? Is there more? How can I simultaneously enjoy and dread spending time with the kids out of the house?

Some of it may have to do with the demands; some of it has to do with the way my heart breaks as figgy tries to jolly me out of blind rages that have nothing to do with her. These are good kids: happy, funny, loud, exuberant kids all full of enthusiasm and infectious, vigorous joy. Except that I feel like I’ve been inoculated against that lately. It’s not a life skill I meant for her to learn so young, and it’s something I see in myself that I might need to change. I’d like to upgrade the mental checklist I have in my mind from ‘not horrible’ to ‘I want to spend more time together’ but I understand how it is being young and not in control of the agenda; I get it, we need to set up some more interesting things than just mindlessly racking up more hours on the picture tube.

Come to think of it, there’s not a single device in the house where you’re watching the dirty end of an electron gun exciting phosphors, is there? Trivia.

It’s going to take some work and I don’t want to shirk it, but there are times when it’s so unpleasant I don’t know what to do but give up and give in. Yeah, but you know that ain’t right either; what lessons do you learn from that, what do you get out of it? There is a limit to nonsense? Only so much fun will be tolerated? We’ll let you spin out of control as much as you like until something snaps? Where are the gentle limits in your constitution, how long do you have before it’s too late, what do you need out of this? If I have to preface a thought with “you make me” then I’ve already lost; if it’s not “I make me” then who does? Do you define your life in terms of reactions, not actions?

Mike

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