There is a flat screen television in the lobby of the school office. When it is on it plays photo slideshows of what certain grades or students have been doing that is of interest to parents such as myself, when we’re there early, killing time.
Such was the case this afternoon. I was early, and sat inside to keep out of the chill. I looked up at the screen and thought to myself, I know those kids. They’re in Riley’s class.
There they were, smiling, doing craft and then holding it up to the camera in a kind of before-and-after montage. They were with their parents. Beaming fathers and mothers at their shoulders or kneeling down, reveling in the marvel of their offspring.
Then my stomach dropped, because I knew what was coming.
And there, all of a sudden, there was Riley. He was holding up a big empty box of Rice Bubbles, dotted all over the sides with texta marks and straggly pieces of paper and string. He was beaming, never one who is afraid to look in the lens.
He was also alone.
I had been at work that day and I forgot to remind Adam to try and make it because I couldn’t.
I felt like a failure. I felt like I’d let him down, although his face displayed no sign of dismay.
I wanted to cry.
And then I thought to myself, well it was over a week ago. He will run out at the bell time and crash tackle me as he always does and ask how my day was and if he could go play and if so-and-so can come play and if he could play the computer and my gosh anything else a six year old can get out in one breath.
I can regret something, but I have to move on too. I can only regret so much for so long.
It’s a funny feeling, how sometimes you go to move your mouth and it refuses to work. Or if it does, in an altered, compromised way. You need to be careful to make sure that what comes out of your mouth actually is what you mean to say because, and you didn’t realise this before, the way your jaw moves, how your tongue responds, in these minuscule unconscious ways we don’t normally comprehend, makes all the difference to enunciation.
At least, this has been my recent experience.
Last month I had an MRI up at Epping, at the Northern Hospital, next to the shopping centre which rears out of the outer green fields of the nearby countryside. As all MRIs are, it was thirty minutes of confined horribleness, which, as it turns out, it was good I had done. Several hundred dollars and physiotherapy later, I’m staring down the likelihood of a root canal in one tooth, plus surgery to remedy my ‘corrupted’ arterial disks in the jaw. I feel like declaring to all the Catholic people in my past: By god, you were right! Pre-martial sex is corrupting and I have the x-rays to prove it!.
And all this, all this, comes on a day when – excellently, wonderfully – I also discovered I am again nominated in the Best Australian Blogs (2012) Competition, in the Parenting category. I’m not sure I believe much in fate or destiny and astrology – but I do have a hunch the universe likes to lean down and slap us awake at times. It can be easy to dwell on the negative, the oh-woe-is-me’s and be a victim. I know, because I’ve done it. But if seeing a picture of my son flash up on a television or the everyday travails of a fucked up mouth have shown me anything is that we must carry on, speak on, despite the difficulties, physical or otherwise.
Because you never know when even that will end.
I would like to thank the people who nominated me in the competition, just as I’d like to thank the judges for the short-listing. This blog feels a little like my marriage – the longer I’m in it, the more I love it, even though I might bellyache about it to friends 😉