Friday, March 20, 2009

Marrianne Must Be Some Sort of Saint

What I Learned On Brendan's Way to School

This morning, pretty much at the last possible moment before heading off to school, something urgent suddenly appeared at the top of Brendan’s to-do list. He’s involved in a project at school with a few classmates; they are scripting and staging a television show of their own. Brendan decided that he didn’t fully trust that others would pull together the necessary elements of the backing soundtrack for their production.

As Marrianne was pulling on her coat and gathering her stuff, nearly ready to walk out the door, Brendan charged back up the stairs to fetch some of the items for his backup plan. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, not comprehending his plan, at all, and shouted after him.

“Get down here, Brendan. Get your coat on. Mom’s ready to leave,” adding, with a touch of anxiety, “What are you doing?”

In an impressive, but not untypical show of indifference to my mounting anxiety, he came down with a pair of mini-speakers he uses with his computer. “These need batteries,” he said, thrusting the speakers at me.

Despite my sense that we ought to be doing something else, I reacted in my own programmed fashion to the phrase “need
batteries". I ran up the stairs to get batteries (rechargeable, of course).

Meanwhile, Brendan proceeded on to the next step in his overambitious plan: burning, in 60 seconds or less, a few of the songs he’d already selected onto a CD he would take to school. I got the batteries and installed them, then rushed downstairs to try and get him back on track. But his computer had already sent him a no-go message about the CD he was trying to burn and he was off to test the disc in a different tech apparatus.

With a touch of desperation, he reported that he couldn’t complete the intended burn. In an attempt to both get him back on the priority task, leaving the house, and solve his problem, I said something rushed that hopefully sounded a little bit like “just-use-a-CD-you’ve-already-got and put-your-coat-on.”

“There isn’t one that will work,” he said, nearly giving up. Then he brightened. “Oh, yeah, the Timbaland CD will work.” And he was off again, running upstairs while I tried out a few deep breaths before I got to screaming at him.

Moments later, Marrianne and Brendan were out the door, coats on, speakers and CD packed, ready for the commute to work and school. I, meanwhile, needed regrouping. This, it turns out, I did quite effectively by washing a load of laundry in the bathtub.

Though it is a digression, I should note that I am eminently qualified to write about doing laundry, though my mother sees the fact that I do it by hand as a symptom of my insanity. “Please don’t tell anyone you do laundry in the bathtub,” she regularly implores. This is not because she is particularly affected by the thought that I am crazy. She just doesn’t want anyone else to know.

But doing laundry by hand gives one ample time to reflect. While I did the load this morning, I thought about Brendan’s last minute project and the wreckage he left behind.

A few blank CDs rejected by the computer were scattered around the desk on the first floor. The original contents of his backpack, unloaded to make room for the speakers, lay in a pile on the dining room floor. His CD index, Timbaland temporarily removed, was on the living room floor, snuggled up against a tripod and camera he’d gotten out for a previous project.

It all, I reflected, reminded me of myself when I get an uncontrollable urge to undertake a last minute project on virtually anything, which I should admit, is my favorite way to begin a project; riding on a surge of adrenaline, starting with a planning stage of, oh, say, 30 seconds, racing around the house pulling books from shelves and papers from files, and maybe, maybe, finishing the project before the next urge strikes (disables?) me.

As I type, I am sitting at our dining room table, a third of which, to Marrianne’s endless dismay, is littered with books and papers and newspaper clippings and receipts from project already underway. It makes me think, seeing myself surface that way in Brendan, that Marrianne, having lived with me and mostly loved me these last 20 or so years, must be some sort of Irish saint.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about the family. From looking at the pictures Marianne has on FaceBook, I can see how utterly adorable Brendan is, but reading your stuff gives me the bigger picture of his personality. Seems like an utterly cool kid.

    Barb Roberts
    (published anonymously because I cannot remember my Google username)