by Jeff M

near divorced now and the children become like spies, emissaries, roadside bombs, grenades beneath your goose down. You're now separate from your spouse, split like dried wood, a shared past as lifeless as an index. You do not speak to each other except when you have to and now the children speak for you, exentions of your self, your sadness, your regret, your anger, your rage.

i ask my son what he thinks his mother is up to today and he shrugs his shoulders and says something about Mindy and her, they're going somewhere, and I ask who Mindy is, does she come over a lot and he says sometimes, I don't know, sometimes she does. I don't care who Mindy is, but I don't tell him this. I don't know if he realizes that or not.

i tell him, Tell her to tell Dan I said hello. Who's Dan? An old friend from high school, I tell him. That's true. He's an old friend she stitched a pair of wool socks for and, later, choked him with. My oldest does not know this. He does not know Dan, but I don't think there is anything especially wrong with him knowing that a man named Dan exists and that one time he and his mother were good friends before she choked him with a pair of wool socks she stitched for him one cold winter's night while she thought of him, thought about him being the one, the one who would love her forever, unconditionally, care and provide for her. Dan may even still have the socks; we all have socks like those in our drawers.

my youngest son is learning the language and sometimes he says "water" in Spanish, which I think is "aqua." He's with us now, listening to us talk about Mindy and Dan and high school and that kind of stuff. My youngest --- well, both of my kids --- attend a Montessori School and there are a lot of Mexican teachers and they are very committed to teaching all the younglings Spanish. I hate it. I think he should learn English first and supplement it with Spanish.

my youngest says suddenly, Aqua...

say water, I say. Say water.

water...Slowly he says this word, this strange alien nugget he has pulled from the earth...He forms the word slowly, much slower than he forms the Spanish word. This concerns me. It's another moment for my index.

do they teach him English...? I ask my oldest. He shrugs. Yeah --- well, they talk mostly in Spanish. Most of the time.

water, I say. Say water more, okay? He nods his gentle little head, the fairness of his hair simply heartbreaking. Try it again.

water...Water...Aqua ---

no, water. That's the word we use here.

my oldest says, Mom's been trying to get him to say aqua more.

i look very seriously at my youngest, ruffle his hair, say "water" again, watch him say "water" and everything, for the moment, is fine. He's mine again. And I know that when he says "water" later that evening, he will have become a grenade. He will have given her a pair of wool socks.


IsThatLatin said...

I really liked this.

josie (as brokaw calls me) said...

Please, from one who has experienced it, don't let them become the pawns.
You two ADULTS can remain civil for their sake. Trust me, I know; I did it for the past 30 years.
And I think it's agua. but I don't really know Spanish.
I worry about you.

Anonymous said...

Very good writing, Jeff. You're hitting the next level with it. Although I agree with Josie in many ways, I also understand that your kids are part of the divorce. It's their divorce too. Anything else I have to say we can talk about on the phone.