Six six six
I am trying to spend more one on one time with Desi out of the house. He needs opportunities to not be a dick and frankly, those opportunities do not easily present when he and his sister are in the same space. Last night, he asked to take a walk and we did a huge circle around the neighborhood. Every time we hit a cross street that would allow for a shorter loop, he asks to keep going. He reached for my hand and held it sometimes. I tried to play it cool but my heart pounded like I was in love.
“What should we talk about on our walk?” I asked him.
“Easy. We should talk first about talking. It’s what happens when you open your mouth and say stuff.”
I laughed genuinely at this. He sparkled a little from the attention.
What’s tough about Desi’s life is that his sisters are unbearably adorable. Jane is three and wears four prints at once and says things like “clams are the potties of the sea” and “unicorns are my prettiest horses.” Polly is six months old and is a soup dumpling come to life. But when Polly is six, her six-ish-ness will be precious because she will still have the least power and be the least grown up.
It’s not fair. I feel for eldest children. You felt like you were on a management track, you were really making the big decisions, they nodded at everything you said. Then they demoted and gaslit you. They told you these new hires were actually just as valuable as you. They expected less from them and praised them more and told you to fix your attitude. You are humiliated. You are bitter. You have disproportionately enormous teeth growing in the center of your face.
My friend was going through behavioral struggles with her eight-year-old and she told me that she was trying to project a beam of love and adoration at him instead of projecting a beam of believing he is a psycho at him. That it sort of works but sometimes it is hard to do the first kind of beaming. For instance, when he is acting like a psycho.
I have been trying to project the good kind of beams but sometimes I just lose my shit. Like when I’m sick and haven’t had childcare in weeks and he is out of his bed again and it’s ten the fuck p.m. Then he cries in his bed and I remember he is only six, a baby, and I perseverate on all the things I could do to prevent nights like this. I wonder if I am doing a tremendously bad job and now there are two more kids in the pipeline to be parented poorly by me. Didn’t think that through, did I?
He asked me to race around the track of the middle school by our house as we pass it. I reminded him that I’m sick and I need to take it easy. “Remember, I have COVID.” (Maybe my heart was pounding because I have COVID.)
“Wait, you have COVID? Is it COVID-19??” I tell him that it is.
“Yeah, that’s the big one,” he says.
I laughed. It is the big one! He picks me a wild buttercup growing in the yard of a house with a Trump 2020 sticker on the mailbox. “Yikes,” he says about the sticker. “Yikes,” I say. I need to give him more opportunities to make me laugh. Then I don’t need to make a beam. I’m the beam and he’s the beam. We’re beaming.
Desi opens the door to the office today. “I told my friends at school you have COVID-19.” Bruh. “Did you tell them you tested negative this morning?” I say, I guess desperate to control the narrative about me to his invisible teacher, his invisible classmates, their invisible parents.
My friend visited for my birthday last week and we sat on the beach eating sandwiches and smoking mellow little blunts at sunset. I thank her for being generous enough to have her first child two years before I had my first so that I could just copy everything she did instead of reading books or spiraling on Google.
We are both trying to parent differently than we were parented but also to, like, lighten up about the whole enterprise. I call her my parenting influencer. She says that she is her own parenting influencer. I correct myself, and say that I’m my own parenting influencer, too. The sun finally plops under the horizon and it’s too cold for us to stay out. It’s the first birthday in years that I’m not pregnant, extremely depressed or both. We fold our little extinguished roaches into receipt paper from my purse to dispose of later and carry our chairs back across the sand.