Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feeling healed at the Farmer's Market

I went to bed Thursday night after reading an article in The New York Times about a man in his mid-30s who has been in prison since he murdered both his parents at age fourteen. The article covered his efforts to earn early release from prison, which a judge agreed to grant—partly because of strong support among prison officials for the inmate's early release—as long as the murderer's family didn't object. One aunt, the murdered mother's sister, objected, so the murderer must serve the remainder of his prison sentence before, ten years from now, being released. After reading the article, I went to bed but, feeling deeply disturbed by the story, didn't sleep very well.

And when I returned to The New York Times homepage Friday morning, during Graham's nap, I saw the news about the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. It is profoundly, inexpressibly sad to imagine the pain and fear of the victims—those killed, those wounded, witnesses, and all their family members and friends. Following the shooting, Adam Gopnik wrote an article for The New Yorker called "One More Massacre." (I have been begging everyone I know to read it, and I'll continue to beg:  please read the article.) Gopnik reiterates in his article on Aurora what he regarded as THE horrific afterimage of the rampage at Virginia Tech in 2007:  on the Virginia Tech campus, cellphones rang from the pockets of dead students as their worried parents called. I won't pretend to know how painful it is to lose a child, but I'm certain that parents and other relatives of the victims, as well as the victims' friends, are feeling so much sorrow. I've been thinking about these people. 

And I've also, selfishly but naturally, been thinking about Graham, who has already showed interest in leaving my arms and will eventually, undoubtedly make and realize plans to leave our home, which seems—coffeetable corners, electrical outlets, blankets and all—much safer than the world outside.

In the article I read Thursday night I learned that one feature common to the lives of children who commit parricide (as noted by psychologists) is that they (the children) are shut in by family and cut off from a larger, non-familial social network. I'm not worried about figuring out a way to raise Graham that doesn't involve his murdering me. I don't anticipate that being a challenge. I'm not meaning to be flippant. Being killed by Graham just truly isn't a concern I have; however, what psychologists have said about children who commit parricide has made me take seriously the possibility that my reclusive tendencies could be inimical to Graham's development. I wouldn't want him, for example, to become antisocial. I don't want to impart my social anxieties to him. He shouldn't be afraid of the world, but if he takes too many of his cues from me, he might grow up awkward, shy and frightened. (Two things I'd like to note:  1. I understand that I may be overestimating my influence on Graham, who is his own person and has his own personality; and 2. You can invite me parties—I'm not exactly a weirdo:  my anxiety is mostly internal, and beer is a very effective treatment for it.)

But it's true that I fear the world. I'm afraid of violence, car accidents, racism, guns going off accidentally, apathy, desensitization to the pain of others, contagious illnesses. I'm afraid when anyone—anyone—allows Graham to chew on her fingers. Strangers' fingers and viral rashes are just two of the things that can be avoided simply by staying home. But staying home won't help Graham know the world in a real, experiential way.

What I want to talk about is the beautiful time Graham and I had at the Athens' Farmer’s Market on Saturday. It was tremendously restorative emotionally. We arrived just after 10:00am and stayed until nearly noon, doing little more than watch families shop and play and listen to Kyshona Armstrong's gorgeous voice and guitar, live. (Please check out her website. She will blow your mind gently.) Graham and I bought an eggplant and purple okra, but the okra's purple, as you can see in the picture below, didn't survive steaming.

purple potatoes, edamame, okra, spinah/arugala salad with kiwi, mango and almond slivers
Because I drink at least three liters of water each day, I make extremely frequent bathroom visits, and because I very rarely put Graham in a stroller (he's almost always in my arms and propped on a hip), my public bathroom visits are always challenging. Wearing a dress simplifies things:  I can get my underwear down with one hand and hold Graham in the air while I pee so he doesn't get toilet seat germs on his feet. And then, somehow, I wipe. This is an unconvincing rendition of just how skilled I am at peeing in public with Graham. I feel incapable of relating all the maneuvers involved (I myself am unsure how exactly it happens), but I want you to know that I am without fail very adept at going pee while holding Graham, which I had to do during our trip to the Farmer's Market.

One hand washes the other, unless you're a mother holding your child at the sink, in which case one hand washes itself while the other hand, attached to the arm holding the baby, awaits its turn to wash itself. That's how hand-washing after peeing with Graham normally happens:  one hand at a time. But at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, another mother, with a child in a stroller, offered to hold Graham after she washed her hands so that I could afterward wash mine. I said, "Gosh, where were you when I was awkwardly pulling my panties down?!" Just kidding. I said, "Thank you." I said it three times:  once for the act itself and twice for her recognizing that someone needed help and instantly offering to be that help. I am so glad this woman exists. I am sure she makes lots of lives happy. She's such a mother.

It drizzled lightly for most of the time that Graham and I were at the market, and although the rain was soft, it fell so steadily that the ground was soaked. I saw several mothers sit themselves on the wet ground and be the dry seat for their children as they ate snacks and listened to the live music. So many moms not minding getting wet since it meant that their kids could stay mostly dry. 

There are pie, pastry and coffee booths at the Farmer's Market, and next week I plan to bring a stroller so that Graham can sit while I indulge in coffee and a treat. I am so surprised each time I use a stroller by how nice it feels to not have a sore back and sore shoulders. It's an unfamiliar feeling, but usually feeling sore is worth the closeness of having Graham in my arms. We like being close, and we love the Farmer's Market.

If I whispered "patty cake" into Graham's ear at the end of a performed song, he could clap. And he will next week, too.

1 comment:

  1. I think you might like the children's book, "To Market, To Market". I really love reading it to Dmitri. He loves it too. = )