Friday, January 11

Important conversations

This is it, I thought, this is the moment when the penny is going to drop.

*   *   *

All week we've been adjusting to Noah's new work hours, as well as my personal adjustment from one-on-one coverage to a zone defense of my children. I just finished my tamiflu regimen last night, so Oliver's tummy troubles should come to a close. Not that I haven't enjoyed changing his poopy diapers every twenty minutes, but I haven't enjoyed changing his poopy diapers every twenty minutes. His wakening every two hours at night with the farts has been an added bonus.

So by Thursday, Ethan and I were both at the end of our ropes. We hadn't been out of the house all week, we're both resistant to even good change, and I was in no mood for Ethan's Obnoxious Voice stylings. He asked me to put together the tower of his knight's castle with the trapdoor and hatch doors switched, but the tower wouldn't snap together that way.

As I sat in the kitchen working on an extensive grocery list instead, Ethan went storming out of the living room. I heard his bedroom door close.

After a couple of minutes, I walked down the hall and gently knocked on his door.

*   *   *

Ethan's handled Oliver's arrival quite well thus far. He hasn't been jealous or mean; if anything he's been indifferent or mildly interested. The only objection he voiced was when I sang a little song I made up for him to Oliver, inserting "Ollie" where before I'd sing "Ethan."

"That's my song!" he said. "You sing it only to me. Make another song for him." Fair enough.

Other than that, Ethan has never expressed overt frustration over my divided attention. Of course, this week was the first time my divided attention was obvious.

*   *   *

When I peeked in the doorway, he was lying on his bed upside down, holding the plastic point of my parents' busted Moravian star that he usually keeps on his treasures shelf, set up like a monolith.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"No," he said quietly.

This is it, I thought, this is the moment when the penny is going to drop. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," he sighed, sitting up.

"Are you sure? Maybe I can help."

"It isn't easy," he said earnestly.

Oh, crap. "Well, maybe we can figure it out together. We could talk to Daddy about it as well."

"I don't want to talk about it."

"We could try. Is it something about your feelings? Or about your body?" You see, he asked me a question a couple of days ago about his Pete, which I referred to his father.

"It's just..." and then the floodgates opened, confession tumbling from his little troubled heart. "It's just my castle. I can't get the trapdoor to stay up!"

I covered my smile with my hand as relief flooded through me, doing my best to take seriously his problem, all the while thinking how different the Important Conversations with my kids would be if they had been born girls.

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