Susanna Salk



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Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Over the winter holidays I took an extra helping of time inside my boys’ rooms. Their spaces have now become as deft at multi taking as their juvenile dwellers: they are simultaneous Lazy Lairs, Homework Havens and Rock Refuges. They are also command central, way stations where peer conversation continually tugs and explodes at them with blips and beeps from nearby phones and computer screens, reminding them of what they are missing out on. But I stand my ground. I interrupt their Skype discussions to make them try on pants to see if they still fit, bring them their favorite snack or remind them of the time. If they are not too busy, I slip conversation like broccoli into brownies on topics I find juicy: Led Zeppelin, Pablo Picasso, Harriet Beecher Stowe. I am always loving in my vigilance, sometimes entertaining and almost always annoying. But one thing I am definitely also, is secretly assessing: why is that packaging material still on the desk when its contents was removed weeks ago? Why is the remote control on the bureau when the television is downstairs? When did the left hand corner of that poster become unfurled? Did the new dog just chew the bottom of the wood bed frame or has it always been like that? It’s not that I expect things to look picture perfect. It’s that I know I can’t fully work, create or relax in my own lair if I know that wastebasket is on the brink of fullness, if there’s a stack of unpaid bills (the equivalent of bad homework) next to the computer or the bedside water carafe isn’t filled, so how, in the world could they? The point is they can. They see no issue with going to bed with a hockey stick on the other half. Or starting a term paper with an old banana peel curled next to the key board. They can and even thrive doing so, mismatched, stinky socks on the floor and all. I know it’s totally my issue but still…whenever they head out to a practice, a play date even (god help me) sometimes just the bathroom, I still can’t help creeping in just a few footsteps over the threshold. A quick tweak here, a sweep there. There, that’s better, isn’t it? It can never be too transformative or they’d notice. But then if they don’t notice the change then what’s the point of doing it? I can’t really answer that now. But admitting it is half the battle. Isn’t it?