HOW COULD YOU have SENT me into that room FULL OF POLLEN?
the kid had passed scream, and was settling confidently into screech.
are you trying to KILL me? You KNOW that I'm AL-LER-GIC! to that stuff!
The next day, he'd go outside to ride his bike, and come home with hives crawling up the backs of his hands. But he wasn't waiting for the hives to fracture into slivers of scared, paradigm-rebuilding boy. I rolled my shoulders, and tried to mentally adjust his volume.
He curled up on the futon, and started crying. I curled in with him, shoving aside the half hour of poisonously nasty kid, layering on the insults with admirable skill. Wrapped an arm around him, and pulled him in close. Squished him a little, while he considered melting - and did.
Boneless in my arms, he let the comfort seep in. I did too, remembering the Toddles' fear of feathers, and the way that the 'dangerous' and 'annoying' allergy categories can bleed together, when you are small. It's a tough line to draw, and a tougher one to install deep below the thinking part of yourself, somewhere in what we might call blind faith. The annoying allergies have to be dismissable for the boys to function. If they aren't, the kids carry fear with them through their day. Will I stop breathing now? they'd wonder. What about now? Is that scratchy throat a sign that it's coming - the big scary allergy thing is going to happen - now? You can't swing a bat if you are waiting for the sky to fall. Can't thread your way through the social labyrinths if the Minotaur is about to pounce.
You know what, kid? I think we need to rethink what we mean by 'annoying.' Because this is really kind of beyond annoying - definitely deep into the seriously irritating.
It was a feeble attempt, but I stopped, waiting for him to choose. He held himself absolutely still, standing in the middle of his fears, the paralysis of his awareness of risk. Outside of that web, he saw me standing with a stray snail's shell in my pocket, lifting leaves to peek underneath, finding rocks to climb over and the ponds where we've hunted for frogs and freshwater snails. Rotting logs, rich with bugs - and the occasional snacking bird. More importantly, he saw his friends weaving through a muddle of playgrounds, basketball hoops, burbling over and around each other, grubby and loud with boyness. He looked. We looked back, waiting, knowing the difference between suspense and a quiet - pause -
He tilted his head. Really, REALLY irritating, Mom.