Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Day He Taught Himself To Blow Bubbles & Unschooled His Mama

in Abney Park Cemetery

We have left the cool house for bubbles. He likes to walk
now, it is finally hot. Twenty minutes later,
we arrive at the bus stop. We have stopped
to walk on a wall, count fence posts;
examine butterfly bushes, say good morning to the three
drunks on Ramsgate Avenue. One gives him a pence.

Within moments, the 149 swerves in the vague direction
of the curb. A harassed woman with a cranky child -
who is still content in a buggy -
waits as the real citizens jostle, scurry and
hasten to cut her off.

I am done with this greedy churlishness.
I combine my bulk with his gaily swinging body
to block the entry so woman and pram may board.
People scowl. I think, Relax.
We are learning something here.
We are learning to think
of others rather than our own selfish selves.

Secretly, I am thankful that he is walking now.
Otherwise, our lesson would have been one of the three:

a. how to be a cutthroat bitch and jockey myself to the front
of the line so the woman with the cranky baby
has to stand in the hot sun and wait for the next bus, or

b. how to be gracious about standing in the hot sun
waiting myself for the next bus with an impatient toddler
while I let the harassed woman and cranky baby board or

c. how to keep moving forward by getting
Running Boy out of his buggy, fold it down
while trying to keep him from dashing
into the street and haul both baby and buggy
onto the crowded bus where no one stands up
to let a mother and child sit unless you remind them
of their civic duty through gritted teeth without once saying

He reminds me that he can do by self.
He follows the horde to the 2nd level. I think,
a toddler on a bus with steps,
how can I live through this?

But, we live through things everyday.
Nothing is as huge as it seems. Until, feeling

the breeze, gazing out over the streets from on high,
I revel in the notion of a thing with wheels and two floors
that is larger than my flat. I could live here
on this sunny double decker bus carreening,
lurching through London.
Suddenly, Harry Potter takes on a depth I had yet unrealized.

This exhilaration works up an appetite. He remembers
that he is hungry and thirsty.
Not having a buggy to stow things in,
I am without consolation. Thankfully, he trusts
that we get there, I will help him solve this problem.
Fifteen minutes later, we are in Stoke Newington.

We have come this far for bubbles.
But, first we must rest and refresh.
We have done so much today already.
I buy him a box of chips and a soda
regretting it two blocks later when I pass
fruit, juice, nuts and crackers. But - I like him to know
that when I say I’ll take care of something. I will.
We are learning something here.

We duck into Abney Park Cemetery
and picnic next to the tombstone of “Grandpa”
I am glad he is not reading yet because
Grandpa “fell asleep” on April something.
But, we have come this far for bubbles, so off we go

into the ancient sentinel trees
past tombstones toppled like dominos;
through Queen Ann’s Lace, buttercups, daisies, and
faded raspberry flowers bulging prickly green promise;
we linger by the sarcophagus whose cracked
lid has turned it into to a watery grave
and said good afternoon to the drunks lounging
on a dead tree stump which has been carved into a bench.

Emerging an hour and a half later
onto the traffic screaming street.
A few paces to the toy store.
He only has eyes for bubbles.
Not the nifty bang-the-ball toy.
Not the trains or cars or animals
not the sunglasses or funky pull cow.
After such a long journey
I think we deserve prizes.
But - he is only interested in
one simple tube of soap and a wand.
Which is what we buy and

back to Abney Park. I am going to perform magic,
now, in just a second, hold on, wait
not there, just a little farther, maybe here

I sit on a fallen down slab
of rose marble next to the broken urn.
As I pull out the bubbles he dances
a little hopping jig of impatient eagerness.
I am still fixated on all the other better things
we could have bought: Brio trains, Plan Toys,

but, only bubbles matter.
Not the Kestrel observing us,
or the nervous collared dove
waiting to be eaten. Just
the ten iridescent orbs floating
and bursting in his hands.
He wants to do it by self .
I hand him the wand and he jams it into his mouth.
As I start to take it away, I realize that
it won’t kill either of us if he sips a small amount
of nontoxic soap or spills or splashes.
It certainly can’t kill him to fail.
Trying and trying. Patience. And finally,
something more fragile than bubbles is won.

And he is satisfied. Confidant. Proud.
So we wind our way past the drunks
and bid them Good Evening.
They give him some advice and 20 pence.

We went this far today so I could learn how
to get out of his way. So, I could remember
the way Knowledge quietly presents herself
and all too often I interfere or block her
entrance when all I have to do is sit, watch
wait for these two old friends to play.


Jax said...

That's fab, I really enjoyed it. Thanks.

Christina Springer said...

Thanks so much Jax for reading and commenting! It is always heartening when someone connects/is connected/laying down the planks for bridges between.

Jax said...

I'm enjoying reading very much. In fact, would it be OK if I added a link from my blog? I'm over at Making it up so you can have a looksee :) Followed your link in your sig on the mp list if you are wondering how I got here.

Christina Springer said...

Of course, Jax, this is the beauty of the web - individual strands connecting.

I'm in the process of managing my links so all of the various interests have !egads! catagories. I'll link back. Your blog is very real and in the trenches.

Jax said...

In the trenches...certainly describes today, even if your description made me laugh :) Linking to you now.

Yona Harvey said...

perfectly accurate / perfectly pleasurable poem /

yours in mahem / yours in motherhood / y