Betwixt and between. This is the confounding, ill-fitting space that Sean and I occupy this summer. We are two mismatched, uncomfortable dance partners.
He is tired, but doesn’t want to nap. He is hungry but doesn’t want to eat. He cries for Mommy to kiss a boo boo, then pushes me away. He wants a band-aid instead. I fetch a band-aid. I try to apply the band-aid to the invisible boo boo. For a split second I imagine he is admiring my skill, that he is pleased with my effort. I half expect him to look up at me and smile with gratitude. Then he breaks down sobbing. I have done it wrong. The world is near end. He wanted to “oh-oh-oh-puh-puh-en the band-aid him (sob) selphs (sob).”
I want to please him, to see him smile – when I am not wanting to scream at him, “Hey Buddy! Knock it off!” I don’t scream out loud. As I’m rummaging around the medicine chest, I scream inside my head. I return with another fresh, unopened Curious George band-aid. He mauls and mangles the paper covering until it is ashen gray. He holds it out to me crying in frustration because he can’t open it. I try to help him and only anger him in the process. He pulls it back like a game of cat and mouse, grumbling “I do it MYselfphs!”
We do a dance of helping and not helping, offering and rescinding, asking then denying until the band-aid is free from the package and plastered on his knee. Curious George is upside down, crumpled and battle worn. His smile is now eerily crooked and torn — which is exactly how I feel.