It's my 6 AM habit to peek in on my child. A check, for the sake of checking. I've always enjoyed watching her breath. When she came back from the midwife's care years ago, I checked her sleep. I was afraid she would stop breathing, or that she was breathing too fast, or maybe not breathing deep enough. My mind finds worries. Morgan is away with her mom for summer. I still check her room. At sunrise, the sun forced shadows across the lawn, through her room, and onto the hallway wall. It was a melancholy moment. I miss my baby.
Remarks by George Furman
It's snowing the kind of snow I love. The flakes are falling slow, sticking to trees... and the important part, the storm is shutting down the town. The world is forced to sit still and that's good for everyone. The chop, chop, busy, busy is too much - too often too much. Snow, however, does not slow down teenagers. I'm in my space reading Albert Camus – chilling to the winter chill and my kid smashes the serenity with SCIENCE! The science fair is 6 weeks out and she has chosen - with sudden urgency - to do a behavioral science experiment about optical illusions. I'm qualified to help her, I have a degree in behavioral science. I don't remember how I got the degree – I”m no scientist – I just remember why I got the degree. I didn't want to major in business and didn't have the guts to major in art. Anyway, how do you get a BA (bachelor of arts) in BHS (Behavioral Science) isn't that just BS (bullshit)? To my point, my kid is wearing my lucky #31 Drew Ranger shirt. She dug it out of deep storage in my closet. No space is private or sacred where a child resides. It was my special shirt – a high-quality Champion shirt back (1989) when that company made the best athletic clothes on the planet. I'd saved the shirt all these years in the hope that I'd give it to my wife. To me, the t-shirt was more sincere than a diamond wedding ring could be. The marriage didn't happen – I blew it – and the shirt has sat so long in the closet it has now shrunk from a large to a small. As the snow falls today, I've given up on the soul mate wedding thing dream. I am letting my daughter have the t-shirt. It looks good on her, my sweet science nerd.
I decided to make a list of the things I need to do. Lists are handy-dandy and do the job. To make my list, I needed to sharpen a pencil. The art box was full of dull pencils. One sharp pencil felt like not enough. the feeling compelled me to sharpen pencils until the motor of the electric pencil sharpener over-heated and shut down – about 2 dozen pencils. I turned to the old Exact-o sharpener – the one used to by kids since the dawn of time as an excuse to get out of their seat in school. I sharpened until a blister formed. I had reasons, a list forming long and wise of reasons to have a bucket of sharp pencils on hand. I'm teaching my daughter to draw – or the art books I piled upon her are teaching her to draw. She'll have sharp pencils. I'd make her more, but my blister hurts.
Putting things out of reach is method of stopping children from hurting themselves. Knives high and away, cabinets locked - all that. They made a cool magnetic cabinet lock when Morgan was young and a foot. Don't need the locks now she's big. I still have the master magnetic key that opened the locks. The large magnet now holds recipes to the refrigerator. (Funny what remains in a home over a decade later. ) My kid is learning to cook, so now is the time for putting things in reach of the child... or better, in the way of the teenager. The plot is to have her trip over them and gets the idea on her own – give something new a try in the kitchen. Yes there are some serious messy food causalities – that's all part of it. Things are in reach now. I'm tall, so things were set high and inconvenient. New today, the blender and other tools are now low and easy to get at – moved this morning – here, tonight I scored a strawberry smoothie served with bashful pride. Daddy wins.
We swam at night. The evenings I discovered I could swim underwater without fresh air for 50 meters, then 60, then 63, 64, 65... meters, was a life landmark for me. I was not a strong swimmer. I made myself a strong swimmer by committing to a swim team. I earned my college sweatshirt elbows ups, tip drills and once a week a flip turns bloody smashed feet on the wall. The sweatshirt was the first I ever cared about. I stored it in a box to give to my kid. She got it tonight. She owns it. I told her to respect the discipline that earned it.
She still wants to be a scientist, a concert pianist, and she's thinking about ocean exploration. I say do it all, be Buckaroo Bonzi.
My alarm clock is disturbing by design. Its sound is like the taste of an energy drink, unnatural but appealing enough to use regularly. The machine consistently motivates me out of bed, through the water closet and to the kitchen – where I check the true time. I've a habit of smashing the alarm clock's off button, which is near the time adjustment knob, so my clock is frequently fast. A fast clock is good because I have a slow child. Morgan does not use an alarm clock. She has me. She disables her alarm as a matter of course or off course as a 12-year-old sails. It's not intentional sabotage. She's a messy kid, as most are. The clock gets unplugged when she looks for anything like clean socks or an over do library book. (All library books are over do by definition in my home) My job is to wake her, stuff her with vitamins and blueberry muffins - getting her to school according the government clock. I use a bugle. I play it badly, which has – I find – an improved effect. Other times I use a Viking battle horn, a black skillet,and spoon, or my favorite the David Bowie goblin scream with foot smacking and blanket tussle. We are frequently late to school.