Sunday, November 11, 2012

everydayMan

Cole


‘Dad, can I have five dollars for book fair?’

‘No. Not right now buddy.’

‘Come on, what’s five dollars?’

I can answer that, but won’t. Not tonight, letting the twist spread along my intestines. My shoulders knot. The spoon delivers another load of potatoes to my mouth, salt & butter lost to my tongue. Peas. Potatoes. Peas. Until the plate is clean.

‘Thank you,’ I excuse myself, cross the kitchen, placing dishes in the sink & continue to the porch, closing the door behind me.

Cold assaults my face, pinching any exposed skin in its grip. Night is as silent as all the little things allow. Leaves rustle. Something moves in the shadow of the tree . Stars, in all their vastness, look back from the black. Boards creak beneath my weight. I wait.

I wait.

-----

Eddie Vedder, unplugged, plays Pearl Jam songs at a concert on the radio. Another day. The same road winds through farms. Cows. Horses. Deer cross the road around several bends, frequent enough to keep me conscious of speed and distance. The color palette in the trees is brilliant.

Gravel. The car door makes a solid thunk as I close it behind me. My cat runs full tilt toward me from the bottom of the back yard, slowing with approach to saunter the last couple feet. We talk, climbing six stairs, to the door. Teeth grind as the key enters the lock, twists.

‘Hey dad, guess what?’

‘What’s up?’

‘My friend Maurice bought me a book at the book fair. He used his money.’

The cinch in my stomach returns. Palms to the face, I work finger bones around eye sockets, push back along the temples. His friend did what I could not, and this makes me---

‘Did you thank him?’

‘Yeah.’

‘Good,’ I won’t argue with what’s given, in this ever humbling existence.

Kiss my wife. A pot steams on the stove. A few minutes before dinner is ready, they run play in the other room & I sit to study – Autism Strategies. Peel back the first page. Begin to read, running my finger along the sharp edge of the paper.

Put it down, deciding, instead, to go play.

writing just to write...happy sunday & do take time today to remember those that served.

78 comments:

kaykuala said...

No.#1

Hank

Secret Agent Woman said...

A very melancholy story.

Pat Hatt said...

Those knots
Hurt lots
But to play
Sure is the way
Studying pffft screw that
The cat would never condone that at your mat haha

Leovi said...

What are $ 5 under the dome of the world of books?

Tabor said...

Reminds me that for some people every little bend can be an unpredictable struggle. I hate that. Life should be easier.

Daniel said...

Wow, powerful and moody and sweet and anxious. Keep at it and take what the world gives you brother.

Tina said...

Boy, have I had that non-conversation a LOT since I lost my job...
And kudos for writing just to write...I can't even manage that these days...
Tina @ Life is Good
http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/

Claudia said...

it's kinda humbling if we can't give our kids what they need/or want.. be it 5 dollars or also non-material things... good if they got friends that fill the blank spots...something to be thankful for though i know how it feels..

hedgewitch said...

Nobody has everything, and the things that don't cost money are the ones that make the most difference--but it still twists. I remember once my son asked me for something--I said "Don't have the money, honey." He said, "well, just write a check." Not. that. simple. Happy Sunday, brian--thanks for the writing for writing's sake.

Alice Audrey said...

And a book fair, of all things. Something you want to support. My kids ran into a fair amount of this. It's hard. A lot harder than just denying yourself.

Gail said...

Oh, man, this is gooooood!

farmlady said...

I rarely cry, Brian. This is one of those rare times. Why do your words do this. Amazing!

farawayinthesunshine said...

I love it when you write just to write...

Deciding to go play is the best way to untie some of the knots...

Grandmother said...

It's hardest on the parents, not the kids. We were poor growing up and I truly didn't know that. My Dad was the neighborhood Dad who played with us kids and took us to the beach (or the library or any other free place). My Mom packed food for us that she made and I thought we were so lucky. I see that this is hard for you but what kids need most and remember longest is not about money.

ayala said...

Those knots hurt... I feel you in this....I've been there. I love this, it's honest, it's great. I hope you have a wonderful weekend :) and I think that was a sweet gesture from his friend. I love his pic, he is handsome.

Laurie Kolp said...

I feel this one. Kids have a hard time understanding the value of money, especially these days. Some of my kid's friends have all the latest electronics, but we just can't do that. I think they'll be stronger for it, though, and learn to appreciate the fact that money comes from hard work.

Daydreamertoo said...

Gulps... so difficult to try and ignore that twist of not being able to spare $5. As I tell Chloe $1 is a LOT of money, if you don't have it.
You are so gently teaching them that they cannot have everything they want just because they want it. Sometimes they get what they want as a gift, other times they earn it. But, they are learning that you love them too, deeply and, that is what they will always carry with them, above all else, above material possessions, they were loved. It is the one thing that matters most and in time, they'll know for themselves.
Awww... amazing man. I can see why your wife fell in love with and, married you. But then, I expect she is as equally amazing too :)

Jen said...

Well, he has a good friend. This won't last forever and when you're in a position again to be the one giving, I have no doubt you'll do it.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Perhaps one day he will be able to pass on that same kindness to someone else.

Magpie said...

Humbling post to all. Sometimes the part we play in this drama called life is One Who Receives...One Who Allows Another to Give. It's all good.

Jenny Woolf said...

This is a sad post, Brian. But your boy is getting love and concern from you, which is worth more than any money, and that is what will really nourish his spirit and soul.

Victoria said...

Brian, this got me like a kick in the gut. Aching, sad reality for so many. I don't worry about Cole, though, as much as I worry about my grandnieces who get everything they want as their parents sink deeper into debt.

Maggie May said...

I love that post.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"I can answer that, but won’t. Not tonight, letting the twist spread along my intestines. My shoulders knot..."
Hi! Brian...
[What a lovely, photograph Of your son Cole, with his freckles gleaming.]
I like to read your writing just to write poetry.

Now, with that being said, here goes the word[s] that comes to mind game:
Anxious,playful,dinner,son,freckles,steam,coffee,mo-ney,music, wife,kiss,friend,fair,reading...
Change Of heart and mind.


Thanks, for sharing!
deedee :)

Betsy Brock said...

ah, now...'grandmother' above is so wise in her comment. So very true.
And I'll tell you now, that book is boring. lol....

Eva Gallant said...

It's tough when things are tight. You want to do all you can for your kids, but it's not always possible. Hugs.

Cloudia said...

how do parents DO it?




Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Mama Zen said...

Man, I felt this one.

Grace said...

This is an honest write Brian ~ I can feel those knots and twists ~

I can so relate to your experience but sometimes I relent with the money in exchange for something else from my children. My youngest is good in bargaining with me, so I used this to get what I want from her.

Happy day to you ~

Wander said...

Brian, it is strange how different people thousands of miles apart can write about the same things...without even discussing the subject...i hope things pick up for you as well...I'll send you an email

Barbara said...

There is so much that is important here. Your son is learning about delayed gratification, gratitude, his father's strength and humility, the value of work, and most important , he is loved beyond what mere money can buy. What he will recall years from now - his father played with him on this autumn afternoon!
Peace

Helen said...

You have an uncanny ability to make me cry .... don't tell Cole, I'm in love with his freckles!

Lisa said...

Children growing up understanding a little hardship will have big dreams that will drive them.

Mary said...

My daughter has had similar conversations with her third grade son about ordering those Scholastic books. It is hard to say no, and often she doesn't; but I know somewhere else will suffer or the credit card debt will increase if she says yes. Truly a parent can only do what they can do; and the things that don't cost money are, in the end, the most valuable things.

Brandee Shafer said...

I'm always glad when I check in with you. I'm glad about more things, reading this, than sorry. Your kid has everything, everything, EVERYTHING that's most important.

flaubert said...

I do like how you ended this, going outside to play with him. Your son is adorable. Children rarely understand finances, at least that is my experience. Nice write, Brian.

Pamela

Me said...

Your kids are blessed, Brian. You have more words within you than five dollars could ever buy. Beautiful words, and you give them freely.

And, for what it's worth, I agree with Victoria. The kids who get everything learn nothing.

Anne said...

There have been many times over my life when I have done for children whose parents could not and likewise over this past year, some have done for mine when I could not.

There is no shame in needing only in refusing to help.

The Empress said...

Brian, I wish I could tell you something to help you, but I know that no words can.

I know this, I have felt this ... and no words can help me in those times, either.

Just know: I can tell you for a fact: I know many children who get everything they ask for--and they just want more, not realizing that what they really want is a parent who is present.

What they'll remember, B, is not all they had, but all they had WITH YOU.

I had so much love in my home, raised by my poor grandmother, that I never knew I was poor until my older sister told me. She said, "we were so poor, remember?" I remember always having food, clothes, and a grandmother singing in the background while she made me hot cocoa.

xo

Lisa Golden said...

I want to gather us all up and bring us together and pool our resources because each of us on our own are struggling so much.

I know what you're feeling. The way you write it here is such a gift. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Bernie said...

We all have burdens to bear although some seem so much harder than others. This was such a beautiful, touching read Brian. Sending big hugs, xo

She Writes said...

oooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh this hits me right at home. tears.

Fred Rutherford said...

excellent piece Brian. You really do a great job of touching upon what is on many people's minds. The going out to the porch, really struck me, as whenever I get a bit overwhelmed inside, somehow the fresh air, the trees and the sky, while not really settling anything, at leasts settles things inside a bit. Love the ending, as sometimes playing is the best thing to do. Sure, you could've kept reading, but your mind wouldn't have been in it, and you chose something tangible. Tremendously efficient use of the quality one has with their time. Great read. Thanks

Sharp Little Pencil said...

So hard to explain why the five bucks doesn't magically sprout from the money tree. After years as a single mom, I learned to tell Riley, "Maybe another time we can get it..." And when someone would gift her what she had wanted, I would tear my insides. This is so real, Brian, so human. Thank you. Amy

Lorraine said...

you never write just to write in each something fabulous awakens...
it's good that he knows that there is kindness and generosity elsewhere, you gave him an unintentional gift x

Valerie said...

I felt for you and Cole as I read this, Brian. Having been in the same situation, with my boy wanting and me unable to give, I learned a valuable lesson. Never say No without an explanation. Our kids need to know Why, even if the answer IS somewhat wrapped up.

Dave King said...

Well kids will always find a way round it -- whatever it is! And then, writing just to write seems just about "right" to me. Shouldn't that always be the way -- in an ideal world. At any rate, it bore fruit in terms of readability and deep pleasure given.

SueAnn Lommler said...

Let us not forget...!!!
Such sweet words...touching things deep within.
Well done
Hugs
SueAnn

A Cuban In London said...

This post is just as good as a any song by Pearl Jam. And you know what? I could hear your voice telling it in typical Eddie's grunt. :-)

From father to father, man, you moved me.

Ta muchly.

Greetings from London.

the walking man said...

What's $5? That my friend is a goddamn shame that you would even have to pose that question to yourself. If this 1912 maybe...

Cinner said...

Hi Brian, a moving write, children just don't understand the money thing
sometimes.Keep smiling Brian.

Lyn said...

Writing just to write..I'm glad this is part of your living each day..thank you!

Pearl said...

Your "writing just to write" is a thoughtful and evocative bit of life. I rather liked it.

Pearl

happygirl said...

Gratitude is a beautiful thing. Say thank you, no you shouldn't have. :)

CiCi said...

Letting go of self expectations is a lesson in itself. You were able to teach by action and your son was blessed in many ways.

Tara Miller said...

I know they don't understand but it hurts when they ask and it's not because we don't want to give but it's because we just can't right now. Push back the tears, put a smile on my face and help them see the blessings they've been given for this day. I know we are doing what we should be doing and you are in the new job you've been called to do. You're doing an awesome job pouring into your students...You're strong and together, we're strong. I'm so proud of you and your outlook on this...the boys know in their hearts what is important and that is the love and security they know they have. I have a beautiful family, we have all that we need....God truly provides our every need....I've seen that countless times and continue to see it daily. In this, I find joy and hope. I know that the situation won't be like this forever.

sorry for the long comment, my love, but I want you to feel encouraged.... <3

Jan Mader said...

Lovely heartfelt post....

Helena said...

I can only echo those comments already up, Brian....oh, and to say, I just adored this little line:

'Night is as silent as all the little things allow.'

I may use that in a passage somewhere, sometime! Permission granted, of course!!

Jeannine Breton said...

Wow, Tara wrote a very nice and I am sure welcomed comment. I have been in your place, many times. With God in our lives, we do somehow or other, survive. Have a good weekend.

Annmarie Pipa said...

Our family has been on both sides of the book fair.

Teri M said...

Your wife is a good woman. Playing with your kids is going to resonate with them for so much of their life, much more than a book or a candy bar request they can't have. Stay strong!

ladyfi said...

Those knots are made easier by the kindness of others.

manicddaily said...

We all need a little play. Agh.

I know the feeling - time running out and more than time - who put that hole in my pocket. k.

Lolamouse said...

That was a great write, Brian. I wish I could make my daughter understand this kind of struggle that good, hard working people go through every day. Keep writing and opening eyes.

William Manson said...

I loved this Brian, teaching kids values is a must, otherwise as your wee guy said, whats 5 dollars? excellent..

Stranger said...

When I was a child, I remembering begging for money from my mom for the bookfair, not understanding just how tight money was or that money was such a big deal that being tight could hurt so bad.
This is beautiful, Brian.
Glad you're writing stuff just because.
- J

Sue said...

It's tough not to be able to give our kids what we would like to, but sometimes I think kids who see the struggle are better off...more ready for "real life" when they mature.

What's more, your boy did have a wonderful opportunity to learn a lovely lesson on giving from a friend.

=)

Okie said...

intriguing.

I love the lines where "the spoon delivers...". it really brought me into the passive world of being acted-upon and just progressing through life. Cool imagery.

e said...

Loved your interview with laurie Kolp. I wish life was easier afor lots of people these days and thanks for your kind words regarding Angel. I hope you are right about heaven.

Raven said...

What an adorable kid! He is really cute. Listen, don't ever let your stomach knot up again. You are such an extraordinary father. And, had you been able at the time to shell out for the book, your son may not have been privy to the generosity of his friend. I am a big believer in "all things happen for a reason. Really.

Cressida de Nova said...

The happiest and most well adjusted kids I know have nothing. They live in a third world country.As long as you eat healthily, no prob,you have each other.The only problem is peer pressure and feelings of inadequacies that society imposes on one for not being in the right situation(having a hefty disposable income)Freedom is everything. Two fingers to society and its phoney value system designed to make us sick with self indulgence.
You earn your money by doing something meaningful and important. Hedge fund managers can't lay claim to this.
You respect yourself and your kids respect you too. Besides
you enjoy a lot of support from poets and this has got to count for something.Courage mon vieux!

Brian Miller said...

cressida...you are pretty amazing...and i do...smiles...because it does mean something...smiles.

SaraV said...

Brian, you sure know how to clench a heart. You hate to say "no" especially to that adorable face and for a book--but sometimes you have to. A wonderful outcome, your son has generous friends--a very good thing :-)

Goofball said...

painful to be a dad sometimes

pandamoniumcat said...

A wonderful write that really hits home... An honest story.

Syd said...

This was a sad one. Good that you didn't react but decided to go play instead.

Nilanjana Bose said...

I hate saying no to my child too...you put it so honestly... passing on the right message to the children and doing it gently and keeping it real...that's what matters...thanks for sharing.

my heart's love songs said...

this is like an exposed nerve ~ raw, honest, painful. really powerful write, Brian! you blew me away!