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Friday, July 16, 2004
Ward? I'm worried about the Beaver. No. Not that one...
This week has been a particularly gay week in America with continous talk about gay marriage and how it's probably a bad thing and what about the children? So it's not too surprising that todays America's Worst Mother it's all manly-son, all the time. Daughters Hibiscus, Ephemera, and Newt are rarely seen...much like Mary Cheney. Instead we are informed that son Arthur Rex has taken up the manly art of...whittling:
Now, in between bursts of wild athleticism, he will sit in prolonged, silent contentment cutting down a length of Laurentien smoke grey/gris fer acquired in Canada, or a Crayola mahogany/acajou bought here, or a bright pink UltraColor (TM) of no fixed origin.
"Make sure to cut away from yourself," my husband will say, as he arrives home to find Paris on the front steps, spraying shards of painted wood.
"Welcome home," I greet my husband. Tousling the head of the heir, I too will say, "Make sure to cut away from yourself."
(Please note the cameo appearance by Mr. Meghan who is always coming and going, and going and coming...and always too soon.)
Anyway, to make a short column even shorter, and since we can see it coming from a mile away(thanks to Meghan's oh-so-subtle foreshadowing), the wildly athletic Arthur Rex does what you knew he was going to do:
We are nattering away pleasantly about this and that, and occasionally adjudicating a case of "Violet said," and "RJ won't," and handing out more bits of bread, when —
I am not quick to leap out of my seat. People are constantly yelling, "aagh, Mummy!" around me, and usually they have stubbed their toe. But when Paris' voice rises sharply, so do I.
Paris is standing atop a little earthen hut in the children's garden. He is flapping his hands and something dark is spraying and spattering across his white shirt and bare arms. I race to grab a handful of napkins from our picnic and run to him, aware that I too am flapping my hands, with the same expression out of Edvard Munch.
"Oh, God, sweetheart, oh, no, what's happened? Here, clamp this over — " The expanse of white napkin blooms bright red, and I tighten my hands over it. Paris looks up at me, his face white under streaks of dirt and tears.
"I forgot. I cut towards — "
Yes. Arthur Rex has cut himself and now Meghan must rush him to Emergency which conveniently allows her to complain, once again, about doctors and nurses who continually ignore her and her perfect chidren while instead helping others who aren't as Anglocentric as the Gurdon clan:
The emergency room, when we reach it, is apparently staffed by lotus-eaters. Let a blood-spattered mother and son step through the automatic doors, and the indifference is so thick you can cut it with a pocket knife. Indifference is an exaggeration; it is as though we are not there.
"Excuse me?" I say after a while to a nurse behind a protective plexiglass panel. She does not look up, and moves away. I fill out a little sheet of paper (patient name, patient age, nature of patient's complaint), slip it under the panel, and gently guide Paris towards the waiting area.
A TV mounted above everyone's heads is running an infomercial about abdominal bloating which features many swollen female midriffs, an animated colon, and consequent happy faces of relief. Paris sits on my lap and watches it. The other patrons sit in attitudes of resignation. We are none of us made-for-TV emergencies, but the lassitude is unbelievable.
"Mwandi mfumo?" a nurse says hesitantly, coming into the waiting room.
"Mwend — "
A dazed-looking woman rises, one hand to her head, and follows the nurse down a hallway.
Can't they see her son, the Pride of Western Civilization, is bleeding!
Meghan then takes Arthur's hand into her own hands and does the Florence Nightingale thing:
An hour later, having stopped at the drugstore and applied, in the parking lot, antibacterial gel, no-stick bandages, and a peewee sized finger splint, and having reacquired the girls, who had gone off with Charlotte and RJ, we arrive home. Everyone unfurls from the car and of course tread immediately on the festive splinters of wood left by Paris the Scrimshaw Man.
"Say," I suggest rakishly, "how about a little — "
"No thanks," Paris says, "In fact, Mummy, I think I'm going to take a break from whittling."
Awww. Cue the theme music, roll the credits.
Next week: Arthur wakes up from a special boy dream and discovers a new toy that was always in front of him...