Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

An AP vignette

This weekend, while Janet and I were outside with Malcolm at my parent's farm in Brevard, my older son Aidan was inside with his grandparents. He had been kicking around quietly on his own, when he noticed that his Opa was asleep in his recliner. He quietly snuck up beside him, climbed up on the couch beside the chair, and leapt full onto Opa's stomach. Instead of the reaction he expected (surprise, a rough-house smile, perhaps), he was violently thrown aside and roundly cursed by both his grandfather and grandmother at the same time. He slunk off downstairs in tears, knowing he had somehow blown it, and not knowing what to do.

Once Granny and Opa had regained their composure, they knew that Aidan hadn't meant any harm and were sorry to leave him in such a state. I went downstairs and lay on the bed with a Aidan for a while and talked with him. He knew that he had done the wrong thing ("I was getting kind of wild, and when that happens I don't always think well," he said) and he could accept that Opa was right to be upset . . . but I couldn't for the life of me convince him that Opa had forgiven him. Thirty minutes of discussion, conjoling, prodding, and assumptive closing could not get him to come upstairs for dinner.

"Opa, maybe if you could just tell Aidan you still love him and its OK to come up, he might come," suggested Janet. Opa marches downstairs, "Hey! Com'on! Stop this nonsense! I'm the one who got hurt, not you! I shouldn't have to come down here to you, you should be coming to me to apologize!" And so on. Not surprisingly, Aidan was not persuaded. Opa marched back upstairs.

Granny goes down and tries her hand. I wish I had heard her approach, because she managed to persuade Aidan to come upstairs and apologize to Opa. "I . . . didn't mean to hurt you," he said. "Of course you didn't," said Opa, gently and matter-of-factly, "and now that's the end of it." And we sat down to dinner. Later Aidan came to me and said, "I did apologize to Opa." "Good!"

As we were loading up the kids to go the next day, Opa came to the car with a sprig of red berries he had plucked from a bush. "I know that he wanted to take some of these home," he said. Aidan was silently thrilled, his face twisting in a mix of emotions. Opa reached into the van, tickled Aidan's chest, and said, "I love you!"

We all drove home happy. Everyone had tried very hard, and somehow, in spite of mistakes on all sides, we arrived at the right place.


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