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Time Keeps On Slippin'

Time Keeps On Slippin'

Image: Kaje

We sit across the table from each other,
two feet of wood and a lifetime of difference between us
as you jot my answers on your notepad and
pretend to listen without judgement
while I explain how and why we homeschool.

Yes, yes, of course you understand.
After all, you taught kids with special needs once.
Your smile offers comfort from Someone Who Knows,
and just as I allow myself the luxury of exhaling
you casually ask

“Have you thought about what’s going to happen when Max finishes school?”

I’m sorry, did you just say... have I thought about it?

The words slap me across the face 
and remind me that there’s no comfort to be found here,
because Someone Who Knows 
would already know
the answer to that question.

Have I thought about it?

Dude.

With every new calendar page I flip, 
I’ve thought about it.

With every new hair on his upper lip, 
I’ve thought about it.

With every inch added to his shadow,
every extra birthday candle on his cake, 
every new pair of men’s sized socks...
I’ve thought about it.

At every hurdle that we’ve faced, leapt over or crashed into, 
I’ve thought about it.

With every reminder that my aging and broken body will not,
cannot be here forever, 
I’ve thought about it.

For every one of the past five thousand midnights, 
I have thought about it.

And yet despite all the thinking I still have no answers to the ever-circling questions about jobs and girlfriends and safety and health and hygiene and how you become independent when all you eat is ramen noodles but you can’t use boiling water. Time is running away from us like a frightened donkey and I’m grasping hold of its tail as it drags me forward, my heels dug fast into the mud, pulling me closer and closer towards a word that looms large and terrifying on the horizon --

ADULT.

While he’s here I can almost, almost make it right, 
I can build and scaffold and structure and protect. 
But the tide is pulling him out towards a world that is not yet ready for him
Hurry up world, 
oh please won’t you hurry. 
To accept, understand, make a place for this boy. 
This man. 
This man
My mind races up and over and through 
all of the Things that men need to do 
when they go to their jobs and answer their phones and cross the street at the lights and ask someone for help and find their way home and follow the law and blow their own nose and buy their own bread and make their own toast and not miss the bus and alarm clocks and timetables and tickets and bus stops into one big cacophony of 
STUFF. 
TO. 
KNOW.
and the many, many, so very many consequences that might unfold 
when I am not there to explain them
and whether I’ve thought of them all 
and whether I’ve taught him them all

My brain gasps for breath as I remember that you’re waiting for an answer. 

“Yes. I’ve thought about it.”

This article was first published on 15 August 2013

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