Parallel Lives

I

Instead of sitting on a set of faded and splintered bleachers watching T-ball and hoping to see him reach first base, or standing restless on the spongy grass of a soccer field sidelines watching a mass of unidentifiable 10 year olds run relentlessly on the green pitch, hoping he gets the ball, hoping he doesn’t slip and fall, become folded into the scrum, I sit in observations rooms in therapy centers listening to my son struggle to say the phrase “watch me,” and I stand next to my child, feigning invisibility, as he falls to the floor, flailing, because he cannot manage his emotions when we must leave the mall.

That’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it?

II

Instead of leaving work early to pick him up at school for gymnastics class, carpooling his sweat-stinky friends home after, and standing among them in my kitchen as they grab pizza slices and mill around me like a group of warbling seagulls raiding a tipped trashbin, incognizant of what they are eating as long as they are eating, and hoping their parents fly them away before it gets too late to start the algebra homework that seems ridiculously advanced for fifth-graders, I leave work early to pick him up at school for a gastrointestinal appointment, careening through freeway traffic in the hopes of arriving only a little late but also in one piece since he distracts me with his whining from the backseat–he is hungry and thirsty but there is nothing, not the chips or the cereal or the cookies I brought along for just this thing, he will eat which is why we go to the GI clinic to check on the button we’ve had inserted into to his stomach from the outside so he doesn’t starve–, and then sitting in the waiting room, watching a family of many children mill around the mounted television watching Nickelodeon, but he and I sit alone on sloping chairs, waiting for his name to be called as he leans into me and says, as best he can, “scared.”

That’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it?

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