7.08 / August 2012

Running Late

listen to this story

You are running late, always running late to pick up the older one at daycare, and it is five dollars for every minute passed 6:00pm. Which is already late enough as it is, but there you are again, trying to do one last thing in the office, missing a train, sitting on a train, stopping to buy the kid a snack at the scary bodega on Division, and running through the rain to not be late.

Because you are so close, the watch reading, 5:55, then 5:56, suddenly 5:58, but you are at the door now, buzzing and bursting in, where it is so quiet that it’s not clear to you whether any children are still there at all.

Then you see them, a group of kids and the teacher, the young guy, all of them fresh-faced and sweaty, sitting in a big group, leaning forward and intently looking at something.

You slow down, you try to catch your breath, and you tell yourself that it’s okay, everything will be okay. You walk up to see what everyone is looking at.

It is your kid.

He’s in the middle of hundreds of puzzle pieces, and he is methodically putting together the biggest puzzle you’ve ever seen in your life. Everyone is transfixed, as are you, it’s beautiful, like a ballet, and as you watch you think about a piece you must have read once in The New York Times about how our biggest fears are the most irrational.

Like flying in a plane, it’s immensely safer than getting in your car, but flying has a hold on our collective fears that cars will never match.

And this is how parenting has been for you from the start.

You never worry about how you will pay for college, which on purely technical level is mostly impossible to do at this time, but you endlessly worry about things like Leukemia, porch parties gone awry, and an endless array of possible accidents that will lead to irreparable brain damage.

It is all there, all of it, and all of the time, which is not even to mention your ongoing fears about the boys being sexually abused because you’ve somehow turned away at the wrong time.

You also never worry about whether your kid is special, however, or if he has some kind of gift, you’ve come to assume it, though based on what, and how that will happen, you don’t know.

This performance on the other hand, this puzzle thing, maybe it means something, it must, but again, you don’t really know.

Just like you don’t know exactly why a fresh-faced young man chooses to work around small children, something you know is antiquated and fucked-up, so you push it aside, and decide to take a moment and enjoy what’s happening before you, your beautiful genius boy doing something bizarre and awesome to the amazement of all who are watching.

He doesn’t do puzzles any more though, nothing quite like it really, nothing that appears especially gifted or unique anyway, which is something that doesn’t totally make sense to you, but is so much easier to ignore for now.

Of course, many things don’t make sense, and many things are easier to ignore, for example, the fact that the fresh-faced teacher went on to inappropriately touch one of the other kids, was quickly, though quietly, dealt with, and is now rumored to be living under the watchful eye of his parents and far from your little school.

Ben Tanzer is the author of the books My Father's House and So Different Now among others. Ben also oversees day to day operations of This Zine Will Change Your Life and can be found online at This Blog Will Change Your Life the center of his vast media empire.
7.08 / August 2012