Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beyond the Fence

A large part of my youth was spent wandering around outside. I rode my bike everywhere, my little white Raleigh. I rode to swim practice in the morning, around the neighborhood, to the library, downtown SmallTown I grew up in, to my grandmother's house and to friends' houses. We travelled through parks with (suburban) woods and rolled out pants legs up and searched in the shallows of the local river. Judging the history of this river, we are probably lucky our legs still aren't glowing. Certainly all my youth didn't have this bucolic nature, and it's really only after a day outside thinking of how different it will be for Cricket that I look back with these rose colored glasses.

I left the Cricket outside in the backyard while I was cooking. He was standing at the back fence, looking through the slats with some degree of longing for the long abandoned sand box, I am sure thinking that it was damn shame for a sandbox like that to be neglected. I literally nipped into the house for less than two minutes and when I came out, Cricket had disappeared. I scanned the perimeter fencing fast. No Cricket. He could have zipped around to the front yard-- He's three and he's fast. I called his name, sharp-like into the new spring air: "CRICKET!" and I heard his little voice call back, "What?" which was more assuring than anything. But the voice came from the fence, and he was not at the fence.

I called again, "Cricket!" and he called out, "Mommy!" in no distress. It was then that I looked beyond the fence and saw him on the other side. Of my six foot tall fence. Either my kid is part wolf or the fence could be breached. I didn't see any evidence of an opening. Cricket does have some alarmingly pointy canine teeth, so maybe...? I walked down to the fence.

"What are you doing? How did you get over there?"

"I just went through the fence," he said. Oh, so not a wolf, just the Holy Ghost.

"Where did you go through the fence? Get OVER here."

"I went through right there. I stepped through. And no"

I pushed on the fence, yes, the panel gave way and it was easy to see how a Cricket could fit through the hole. A Cricket, yes. A Mommy, no way in hell. And he just did his first very defiant no to me, safe on the other side of a fence. "I mean it, Cricket. Get over here right now. I'm going to count." Counting. The stupidest parent trick ever and it works every single time with my child. "One," I started.

"No," he said, bending down to pick up a blue shovel that no one had probably played with for ten years.

"Two!" I continued. And he said again, "NO!" at which point I realized that my stupid counting trick didn't work when he clearly knew I could not get through the fence to get him. "There's going to be a consequence," I began. Crap. Here it came: bribing my kid with food. I have not wanted to do this, but he knew a peanut butter cup was waiting for him. And this child knew what the consequence was without even saying it. He was at that fence so fast. And I was pulling him back through. "March right inside, Mister" I said fiercely.

Here's the thing I realized. Cricket was right on the other side of a fence that I can see through, but when I came outside, I didn't see him. We are trained, for the most part, to only look so far and no further. We think we are looking at everything, but in reality we only look as far as we expect to see. It's my challenge to continue to look beyond the fence. In the past few weeks, I have either realized on my own or with help from friends how I only look to the fence. I might see everything at the fence, or around the fence, on the way to the fence, the looking beyond is a challenge. I know I need to prove myself against this since I am the very one who put up the fences where they are. I'm tired of fences. I want a wide open vista to view, but in order to get there I need to keep training my mind's eye.


OpenID savedbythebrew said...

I've missed your writing. Glad you are at it again.

And curious how the statement at the end, "That's the" ends?

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the fences metaphor...also, get that boy a sandbox or buy your neighbor's un-used one! ha.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Nic said...

Hey, just checking in. I bookmarked this post ages ago to comment on, and now look, it's 2.5 months later! The terror when you can't find your child is indescribable. I'm glad you were able to get him back inside. and I hope that your looking outside the box is going...

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was searching about car seats and I found your blog. I have a car seat I bought in 2007 for my daughter who is now 2 1/2 and am using it for my second baby. It has a terrible odor. Never had a rash but an odor. I was wondering if you found out what actually caused the rash. My e-mail is dani_78_78@yahoo.com


8:00 PM  
Blogger Margaret Lias said...

Ha! I remember your grandmother's house and fence. And backyard (and BVM statue). I'm glad I stumbled across your blog and your writings. I was that girl who lived next door to your grandmother. I liked summers when you would stay with her. Lots of memories from that neighborhood! You write beautifully. I hope you're well.


4:07 PM  

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