Really all I need is a simple way back to now. And I need it again, and again, and again. When I escape the trap of my worries, the real world seems so solid and beautiful.
I find myself Assistant Scout Master for my son’s pack, or pride or den, whatever it’s called. First grade is the first Cub Scout year, so it’s a newly formed group, and they needed someone to help out. Only after signing up and buying the uniforms did it hit me how unprepared I feel to do this.
Luckily Mike the Scout Master, though also new, is a natural, and he got the boys going reviewing how we’d earn our first badge, then playing games. My kid was the one veering most out of control, and I must say in this I’m just not a natural parent or leader. When I want him to behave, all I can seem to do is tighten up. It’s exactly the wrong way to go, and I know this even as it’s happening. I give “the look,” which worked (sometimes) for me and my brother when my dad did it. My daughter understands the look and responds. But 7-year-old Jaden spirals bigger and bigger the more I try to control him. He’s immune to the look, at least for now.
I recently finished a wonderful book of short essays by Karl Ove Knausgaard called Autumn. It’s a series of letters and reflections written for the daughter he and his wife are expecting, little musings on buttons, and chimneys, ambulances, loneliness, tin cans and toilet bowls. There’s a lot about sunrise, and trees, and his two already born children and their farmhouse. It’s so calmly, directly observed.
A favorite passage:
It feels like I have started something new, something quite different, and that is this family. I think of it every day, that what matters is now, that the years we are living through now are when everything important happens. My previous life seems more and more distant. I am no longer preoccupied with my own childhood. Not interested in my student years, my twenties. All that seems far, far away. And I can imagine how it will be when what is happening now is over, when the children have moved out, the thought that these were the important years, this is when I was alive. Why didn’t I appreciate it while I had it? Because then, I sometimes think, I hadn’t had it yet. Only what slips through one’s fingers, only what is never expressed in words… exists completely. That is the price of proximity: you don’t see it. Don’t know that it’s there. Then it is over, then you see it.
I try to stop and look at the trees and the stones, appreciate the dog and the kids and my husband. But somehow, maybe inevitably, it slips away and I fret about the small stuff.