The Blanket

diaryofaquilter

photo: diaryofaquilter.com

 

He took it with him everywhere: School, the doctor’s office, the park, the car, the dinner table. He carried it in hand, in the backpack, over his shoulder. It was to him a cape, a comfort, a memory of tucking in, a constancy.

It’s always been there. He couldn’t remember a time before.

Well-worn, oft-washed, much-handled.

His blanket.

Never out of sight.

He’d sit before the washing machine and watch it spinning, floppy, in a foamy sea. Later he’d guard the dryer as the blanket tumbled, already impatient to come back warm and scented into his arms.

He’d place it at the ready on the bathroom stepstool to guard him as he washed. A sentinel over his pajamas.

It waited right under the chair at mealtime, in temporary exile from his lap after his argument that the blanket could make an excellent napkin had failed.

Even at school, where he wasn’t allowed to hold it, he’d leave a small blanket-ear peeking out of his cubby; to remind him it was there, with him, waiting for the end of the school-day.

It was a coat of heart, a shroud of courage, a cover against storms of any kind.

It was almost part of him. His blanket.

Then the fire came. He was carried half-in-sleep and heavy-headed, by a man whose giant shadow painted wall-monsters against the orange flicker and the swirling smoke.

There was more flicker outside: blue and red and white and blinding. Shouts and calls and creaks and cries and movement. Yellow coats, red truck, bright door, funny mask.

And no blanket.

It was gone. To Blanket Heaven.

A spark in the sky now. A spot of cloud. A star.

Lost along with Curious George and Teddy Ben and his dinosaur car.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

 

“I Gray?”

play-dough-people-faces

Photo: picklebums.com

 

His maman is from Haiti. His “so called papa” is “no one you’d want to remember” (as per his maman and grand-maman) because he has “no color in his eyes or heart.”

The boy has soft waves of honey brown hair. Cupid lips. Deep brown eyes. Light caramel skin. Freckles on his nose.

He’s recently discovered the magic of combining colors. He finds it entrancing. He is especially moved by the alchemy of what happens when you add white.

“You have black?” he asks, pointing to the Play-doe containers on my shelf.

“No,” I note, “I ran out. But I have brown.”

“Let me see.”

I hand him a container and he pulls the lid off and inspects the contents. “It in the wrong place,” he states, pointing to the yellow lid.

“I know. I just used a container I already had. It didn’t come that way. We made the brown from mixing different colors.”

“Who make it?”

“One of the other kids I work with made it. You want to try and make brown, too?”

He frowns, considers, shakes his head. “But I want some.”

“You want to use some of it? Sure. Go ahead.”

He pinches a bit of the dough and rolls in pensively between his fingers. “You have white?”

“I do!” I give him the white-topped container. He peeks in. After the yellow-topped one holding brown, one never knows …

He pulls out a chunk and begins kneading the white piece into the brown. A moment passes, then another. He’s quiet. He’s got something on his mind.

“Brown people are called black,” he notes.

“Hmm…” I nod. I wonder if he’d say more.

He glances at the yellow lid and I wonder if he’s wondering if it is one more of those “in the wrong place” designations. He sighs.

“I black but I also white,” he raises his eyes to me. “That mean I gray?”

 

 

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Small Fry

Children phototechnique.com

They may be small

They may be young

They may often get taken, transferred, pushed around.

They may get little voice

About things that affect their lives.

They may have few actual ways

To keep alive.

Their views may be ignored

Laughed at

Minimized.

Their needs may all too often be relegated

To agendas others have.

But small as they are, they are mighty

They are brave of soul

And heart.

They hold opinions

Dreams

Ideas

Insights.

Our care makes all the difference

To the future

That they hold

Inside.

For The Daily Post

 

Cranky Monkey

 

CrankyPants Etsy.com

Photo: Etsy.com

 

 

He didn’t want to put on shoes. He didn’t want a sweater. He didn’t want to read a book. He didn’t like the weather.

He didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to play.

He didn’t want to take a walk. He didn’t want to stay.

He didn’t want to sit on lap. He didn’t want his chair. He didn’t want to play with blocks. He didn’t want his bear.

He never liked this yogurt. He never liked bananas. He never even wore this shirt. He hated these pajamas.

He didn’t want to take a bath. He hated Yellow Ducky. He didn’t want to wash his hands. The shampoo smelled yucky.

He didn’t like his bedroom. He didn’t like this bed.

He didn’t like this towel. The brush bothered his head.

A Cranky Monkey day to be

In Mama’s arms instead.

 

 

 

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“I pleased her!”

siblings2

 

The cacophony coming from the children’s room was deafening.

She walked in to two small teary faces. One red with indignation, one blotchy with enraged demand. A pile of blocks depicted fresh ruins. A toy car spun a morose wheel toward an apathetic ceiling.

The wails rose to crescendo, a duet for justice.

She knelt to wrap an arm around each sobbing set of shoulders. “Shhh….” she cooed, “What happened?”

“He …” the girl accused, an index finger poking emphasis at her brother. “He broke my castle.” Tears flowed.

“I didn’t!” he protested, matching tear to bawl. “She push me! It broked!”

“He put the car on my castle! Castles are for princesses!”

“But …” he cried, insisted, “but … I said please, Mommy! I pleased her first!”

 

 

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Tenacity

orphanage

 

He lay alone. A crib among a sea of cribs.

No one. No home.

Lifted, unwrapped, rewrapped, put down.

Indistinct sounds

Disembodied cries: His own? Others? Anyone?

His voice ignored.

Too many babies, too few staff.

He learned to rock himself to sleep.

His mind took him away from hunger, fear, despair, exhaustion.

Alone.

Alone.

Alone.

Contracted world. Folded unto its own.

 

Eternity.

 

Then in the numbing monotony

Different arms.

 

Lifted into chaos

Faces too close, movement too rapid, changes too many.

Sounds mouthed.

Rapid. Jumbled. Urgent.

Unknown.

Numbness threatened, overwhelm piled on.

Snail in. Check out. Burrow deep into alone.

 

Still something tugged. Come back.

Smiles. Cooing. Soft hands.

Gentle rocking that filtered into his own and

Enveloped

Awakened

Yearning. Sorrow. Despair. Hope. Panic. Need.

Too much. Too much. Too much.

He fled into his mind.

He peeked out. Fled back in.

Moments alternated:

Aware, away, awake, afraid, alarmed, asleep.

 

Days passed on

Eternity or weeks or months.

Soft words repeated gently

More faces

More holding arms

In rocking, humming, tenderness

Language.

Song.

New scaffold rose as

Meaning slowly dispersed fog

Into words.

A world.

Gentle hands.

Comfort.

Soothing voices at disembodied cries: his own?

His own.

His voice.

Calling.

For someone.

To come.

And they come.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

“They did it!”

Goldfish

 

“It wasn’t me!”

The potbellied cookie-jar was stranded sideways on the kitchen floor amidst small mountains of spilled cookies in various states of broken. The jar’s lid wobbled under a chair a few feet away.

I looked at the small face, cherubic auburn curls surrounding dimpled cheeks. The forcefulness of the denial belied the crumbs around the lips, the sticky hands, the guilty blue-gray eyes.

“It wasn’t, eh?” I worked to keep my eyebrows in line.

The preschooler squirmed but didn’t fold. She shook her head emphatically, looked around, and tapped her lower lip with a (suspiciously chocolatey) finger.

An idea dawned into her face and she pointed said finger at the aquarium where three goldfish lazed. “They did it!”

My eyebrows escaped. “The fish?!”

A wholehearted nod. She was warming to the thought. “Yeah! They don’t like fish food every day every day anymore … and … and … it the fish birthday …” she swung her finger from one idle swimmer to the next. “Um, this one! See? He didn’t even want fish food for his birthday!”

 

(Thank you, A.J.!)

For The Daily Post

Interconnected

phones Etsy

Photo: Etsy

 

“She has a symbiotic relationship with that phone,” the mother complained, eyebrows raised and head tipped in the direction of her daughter.

The pre-teen (on cue) rolled her eyes without lifting them from her opposing thumbs and the aforementioned item’s screen.

“See?!” the mom announced, vindicated.

“Whatever,” the girl sighed in the tone dedicated to oldsters who cannot possibly understand the nuances and necessities of modern life. She placed her phone face-down on the desk and turned her head to her mother. “Happy now?”

The mom nodded, half-mollified, half-mortified.

The lass-with-sass turned to me. “She keeps on me for that phone but she’s the one who’s always on the phone.”

“It’s work stuff,” the mother defended, reddening. Her own ‘lifeline’ already half-way out of her purse.

“Mine’s school stuff,” the girl countered. Her eyebrows rose in victory, a mirror image of her mother’s.

I smiled at their banter. It was a well-rehearsed dance, a sparring of connection more than true conflict.

“Funny thing …” I pulled out the work I had planned for our session that day: a passage and discussion about symbiosis, the close and often long-term interaction between two different species …

 

 

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Symptomatology

Reflection--Photographer unknown

He over-eats because he’s nervous.

She over-sleeps because she’s sad.

He hits because he doesn’t know another way to show he doesn’t understand.

Her stomach hurts when there’s a test

His when a certain uncle comes.

She ‘checks out’ when her parents fight

or students raise a hand.

He cries with every little scratch.

She’s stoic with a shattered arm.

Their eyes glaze over at the sight of checkered shirts

Or painted nails

A hairdo

A certain aftershave

Or lip balm.

He can’t sit still.

She won’t stop day dreaming.

He mopes. She cries. He pouts. She flies

Off the handle

If someone meets her eyes.

He wets the bed.

She carves red lines into her thigh.

He fights because he’s scared.

She spits because she’s feeling trapped

and

flirts because it is the only way she knows

to interact.

They’re judged

For all

Of the above

When in fact

Their behaviors speak a loud broadcast

Of unabated stress

And lives

That turned

Hard

To survive.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Minimal

black-dot

 

“What is that?” I asked about the dot the four-year-old had just purposed onto the page.

We’d been talking about living and non-living things, sorting pictures and ideas.

He looked up at me. “It a minimal.” His tone stated this was obvious.

“A what?”

He raised a small eyebrow, slowed his speech to meet my apparently plummeting intellect. “A Mini-Mal. A very teeny teeny animal.”

 

 

For The Daily Post