Posts tagged "parenting"
Punch Line

Punch Line

One night when my wife is pregnant with our second child, she asks me for a glass of water. It’s late, and though it is a minor request, I still grumble as I sleepwalk to the kitchen. Who can say what time it is? Even the clocks are asleep. But the water is there, and...
Overpass Into Fog

Overpass Into Fog

One winter morning after dropping my daughter at daycare, I took the 180 overpass arching into thick fog and, though I knew it well, I couldn’t in that moment be sure where the road actually ended. Suspended between past and future, I disappeared into language and place, weather and love, and I wondered how close...
A Story Like This

A Story Like This

Her seven-year-old eyes take me in from across the table. We look alike, though I’m not sure she knows it. The waitress asks us what we want to drink. She orders crayons and a Shirley Temple. I laugh and order coffee. Outside, past the parking lot, is a granite-tipped mountain speckled with snow. Past the...
Little Lesson on How to Be

Little Lesson on How to Be

The woman at the Salvation Army who sorts and prices is in her eighties, and she underestimates the value of everything, for which I am grateful. Lightly used snow suits, size 2T, are $6 and snow boots are $3. There is a little girl, maybe seven, fiddling with a tea set. Her mother inspects drapes...
Shame

Shame

I stole another woman’s boyfriend once. Maybe he was her ex-boyfriend, or she was about to break up with him. I can’t remember now except that he came to the apartment I shared with his girlfriend, and he watched TV with me while she went out and had sex with other men. One night, the...
Feeding Time

Feeding Time

The table was set with all seven dishes stacked at the head of the table where my father sat. Everyday stoneware for weekdays, china on Sundays. Hot pads, to protect the plastic tablecloth that protected the vinyl table covers that protected the wood surface, likewise were only in front of his place. When the serving...
Shock and Awe

Shock and Awe

Late one night as a child, in bed in my room, with heat lightning quaking sourceless on the horizon and lighting the world in quick flashes, I convinced myself the missiles had flown and the bombs had begun to fall. After each flash came a low concussion like the coughs of my cancer-killed uncle, and...
Cut

Cut

Baby’s crying again. I know the baby’s crying again. Maybe if I had a little help, maybe if he’d stick around after the sun goes down, maybe if I was somebody else in another body this would be easier. The baby’s been crying for two weeks and nothing I do helps. All I want is...

Hard Candy

The summer my older son was about to turn three, I took him to the library of the college that had just given me one year’s grace to find another position. Such things were supposed to be confidential, but the librarian knew I would not return in September or, at the latest, be gone the...

Teeth

Everything belonged to Russell now. My mother was his wife, I was his son, we lived in his house—an isolated farm we didn’t need and couldn’t afford. Russell had started cutting trees off the property and selling the timber to make the mortgage payments. He was sharpening the teeth of a chainsaw on the front...

The Moment

No sound from the kids, not for fifteen minutes. I trust they’re asleep. I get my tiger-striped chenille robe off the back of the bathroom door and put it on over my jeans and flannel shirt. I am that cold. Lately I stand sometimes for a whole half-hour over the floor furnace. Other times I...

Aftermath

After the skies broke open with a stunning crack about two o’clock in the morning, brilliant flashes of blue flooding the Winnebago like strobe lights; after the rain cut rivulets through the sand, long scratches of some malevolent creature obviously displeased with the earth; after Kennie and his dad had been out on the beach...

Instincts

I’m with my family on an isolated stretch of the Metolius River in Oregon. Lush vegetation clings to the bank, ferns and clover and elephant grass, willow trees and aspens, but the air hangs hot and dry. Insects burr. A woodpecker taps like a slow metronome. This is before my parents’ divorce, so we’re all...

The Potato Harvest

This is the morning that summer ends. In one hard frost our garden has become an abandoned battlefield, the last vestiges of the living lay stiff and frozen, black wilted zucchini leaves like limp umbrellas stand as pathetic monuments, tattered flags, over what was, only yesterday, a vegetable garden. Potatoes love one heavy frost. It...

Vitamin M

In the Navy, Vitamin M is the cure for all ailments.  Ship medics prescribe extra-strength Motrin, thousands of milligrams, twice, three times the recommended dosage to treat headaches, hangovers, back pain, stiff necks, fever, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, even acne.  My husband, in his nine years of military service, has adapted easily to the ibuprofen...

“Icky Papa Died”

I was relieved when my great-grandfather died. I learned of the event more than a year after the fact, simultaneously ingesting the information that he’d passed in Idaho, that he’d been buried in Montana, and that his grave—while next to my great-grandmother’s—was unmarked and expected to remain that way. No one in Idaho wanted him...

Suspended

The locker room walls were painted puke green and lined like a cage with metal hooks, and red mesh equipment bags hung from the hooks like meat. One of the bags was swinging, and I was swinging in it, and Drew McKinnick slapped at it and did his punching, and the janitor got me down....

Hill Street Blues

My first memory fails me.  Brown shag carpet.  I am in the living room.  My mother is watching the end of Hill Street Blues on a color television.  She lights a cigarette.  Smoke rises, spiraling toward the ceiling.  When her show is over, an orange racecar with a Confederate flag painted over the top jumps...