By way of confession, I want to share the story of how I traumatized my poor son this past weekend. I have a long history of surprising my husband Biggy when he's working in the yard or washing the cars, etc. He's so serious about these things--like they're life or death--and he gets consumed. He gets this I-mean-business look on his face, a Do Not Disturb expression. So occasionally, when the kids aren't around, I'll flash or moon him from the windows, which for some reason still has the power to shock him. He never thinks of me as "that kind of gal." He generally thinks I'm a stick in the mud. Besides that, he has the memory of a goldfish, and he forgets the precedents.
To put this in some context, here's a poem I wrote several years ago, about the night before our wedding. It's in the new manuscript:
The architect is building
a treehouse for my children,
tool belt cinched around his soccer shorts,
with no tools in it, save
the green Bic pen, tiny arrow,
hanging from one loop.
I’m just out of the shower,
yes, a little wet, watching
from the bathroom window
as he circles the structure,
rubbing the sudden gray of his temples.
So much of what he does
is calculation: angles, levels,
risk; the thing towers. Our wedding
is tomorrow, the sun already
taking its seat. And this
is what’s important. Not his tux, which
still needs fitting; not his friends,
like boys in the woods, calling
and calling; not even his bride-to-be,
her breasts pressed against the glass.
Just this first tall promise he’s made.
Yeah, you know where this is going...
Well, Saturday, I'd just come back from jogging and was getting ready to take a shower. I'd seen Jack in the sunroom, socked in but good on the couch, watching the History Channel (Note the TV/sunroom's location in the picture below). Lo was upstairs in my bed, watching cartoons (what can I say?), and Biggy was out back, working on Lo's playhouse, that bottomless chore he began three YEARS ago.
There was no one else around. Our yard is completely isolated.
From my bathroom on the second floor, I can see the playhouse. I can also see the roof, which is pretty much right beneath the window. I suddenly have a brilliant idea.
I grab a robe and run across the hall to JackMan's room, because that window has no screen. I lock the door, drop the robe, climb to the top bunk, and crawl through the window.
Safely on the roof, I yell, "Greeeeeeeg!"
Biggy, of course, is INSIDE the playhouse and doesn't want to be bothered, so he screams, "WHAT?!"
I call again, "Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeg!"
"WHUUUUUUUUT?" He's getting really annoyed, which makes this even better.
Once more I try, "Greeeeeeeeeg!"
Then, I hear a new voice in the mix: "WHAT, MOM?! All is reduced to slow motion.
I see the top of Jack's head below the roof line. He's on the deck, walking backward to see what the fuss is about. At this very moment, Greg comes out of the playhouse.
He sees me: TANIA?!
He sees Jack: "JACK?!"
I drop to the ground that is the scorching roof (second degree burns on my hands and knees).
My son, who ordinarily wouldn't miss a single moment of "Nostradamus: 500 Years Later," who wouldn't go outside if you offered to let him be the water boy at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit photo shoot, had, for some reason, between the time I came in from my run and the time I got upstairs, decided to commune with nature.
Later, he told me, "I didn't see anything, Mom, but I can't BELIEVE you were naked in my room.
I should probably call the therapist.