Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

That really should read "New Year's Resolutions" but in the interests of authorial emotion I chose "Tidings..." because it's far more apt.

We were talking about New Year's resolutions, me and the kids, at about 8pm last Tuesday evening (the 30th). My mum had asked the kids if they were going to go outside and bang pots and pans at midnight on New Year's Eve, like I'd done when I was a kid. The twins, being the young and enthusiastic noisemakers that they are, loved the sound of this, even though they were a little mystified. If there was such a thing as a Visible Thought Bubble, I would have seen something along the lines of

"Gosh! Why would someone go outside at midnight and bang a pot with a wooden spoon? Making noise just for the heck of it?
At midnight? When all the adults are in bed? I'll be the only one up?
Cool. I am SO in."

perched above their heads. Max, being the uncertain pre-teen that he is, thought that sounded weird and vaguely babyish, and said so. He was slightly scornful, too, so it kind of squashed the moment. The twins and I fell silent; the twins at the idea that they'd be doing something their elder brother considered babyish and me at the thought that Max was morphing into a slightly obnoxious pre-teen. I reminded Max that there were an awful lot of New Year's customs out there in the Ye Olde Big Wylde Worlde, from years and generations past, and that banging pots and pans was one of them. I mumbled something about scaring away evil spirits and wiping the slate clean, and he was less openly derisive, but still, that glad New Year's moment had slipped away from us.

The next day I had a disastrous allergic reaction to something, and we forgot all about banging pots and pans at New Year's. At least, I did. I was too busy itching (and being shocked at the hives appearing in the most horrific places on my body) to think about New Years. I did something I rarely do and spent the morning in an anonymous medical clinic, surrounded by the sad, the mad, and the just plain depressing, waiting for a cheery but hurried doctor to tell me what I already knew: "You had a serious and very mysterious allergic reaction to something. Could have been a food additive. Could have been a food dye. We might never know. There are a lot of strange things in the food these days. Take this prescription. And this one. And buy some of these OTC drugs. If it comes back come back and we'll test you further." I skipped the first prescription (super strong antihistamines), I skipped the second one (super strong antihistamine cream), but I did buy the OTC antihistamines. I hate taking medications but I also hate scratching until I bleed.

New Year's Eve was spent lying on the couch, drugged and sadly misty-headed, listening to my family eat a festive meal, well, as festive as one could be without me at the table. Once I'd hauled my sorry, reddened, puffy carcass into bed retired to bed, around 9 pm, I listened to them playing Radio DJ with a microphone Richard had hooked up to the stereo. I listened to Max introduce the Bare Naked Ladies ("Heeeeeeere's the Bare Naked Ladies, doing a little number I like to call "I Had A Little Dreidel"). I listened to Max introduce David Bowie ("This is 97Jack FM, and you're listening to Bowieeeeeeeeee"), and wondered briefly at his prowess as a cheesy radio host. I listened to Max introduce more Bare Naked Ladies and then sing along with them, in a sort of lounge lizard voice that had the twins rolling around on the floor in hysterics. I listened to Dominic, who spent his time giggling into the mike, and FDPG, who delightedly shrieked every single thing she knew or had ever heard into the microphone, before Max and Dominic wrestled her to the ground. Only then would she would relinquish the mike. That FDPG. She's just like her mother - a glutton for attention.

At midnight I pulled myself awake, only to find Max perched at the window in my bedroom, gazing solicitously at me. "Look, there are people out on the bike trail letting off fireworks," he said, "want me to bring a pot for you to bang, Mum? I'll help you." "No, thanks," I said. It sounded entirely too strenuous. Then he said to me "My New Year's resolution is to be kinder to everyone. What's yours?" "I don't know," I replied, "maybe to never have another allergic reaction ever again?" But inside I told myself that I would try to remember that the sullen, rude shadow rearing up now and then in Max is just that, an occasional grouch. I have one of those inside me too. And I don't see myself stewing too much about mine, so why stew about Max's, I thought. We smiled at each other across the darkness, and he hugged me, then we each looked out into the night. We could hear people shouting and banging pots, we could see fireworks arching out into the sky. We could hear the twins shrieking and laughing out on the front porch with their dad. We could hear car horns honking. I felt glad for this moment, because it reminded me that those destructive grouchy parent/child moments are transitory. They don't last forever, even if I do tend to hang on to them. And when all is said and done Max will be there, like he always is, a nice, goofy, witty, funny, kid.

"Happy New Year's, Max," I said.
"Happy New Year's, Mum," he said.

Happy New Year's, everyone.


Anonymous said...

I spent New Year's Eve hugging a 70 lb Rottweiler who is traumatized by fire crackers. Sooooooooo glamourous, yes?

A while back you asked about my email address street sign. I made it here:

Anonymous said...

Yuk, sorry to hear that your new year's eve celebrations were curtailed. Hope you're better now. Happy new year to you.

Anonymous said...

Great insights. Sorry you were feeling so crappy, though. could be worse. A friend has just discovered tat her kid is allergic to cold. Yep, we live in Ottawa and her kid breaks out in hives from cold. Oy vey.

shaun said...

Aw, what a great ending to a sad story. I totally missed NYEve from illness myself -- though oddly I also woke up at midnight for a little while.

BTW, JOve et al., we also have friends who just learned that their daughter (but not her twin brother) has a literal allergic reaction to cold. Minnesota is not a great place for that!

Happy New Year -- here's to health!

Vivian said...

I'm so sorry about the hives. Never pleasant. Unfortunately, I'm an expert on hives. What works over here is Benadryl, shower (just in case any residue of offending product is on skin) and hydrocortisone ointment. I hate taking medicine, too, but this gets the hives down quick.

Glad Max was there to help you usher in the New Year.

Wishing you and your family wonderful adventures this year!

Andrea said...

Happy New Year and as the seasoned mother of teens (even one who is 22)I can tell you that it all works out in the end! (some more quickly than others...hehe)

Christine said...

Lovely post. It's interesting to me because my 9,8, and 5 year olds threw homemade confetti and banged pots and pans at midnight on New Year's Eve, and I wondered to my husband how many years more would my oldest be content with such a tame celebration at home. Happy 2009, and I hope you are feeing better!

this is my patch said...

I am so behind on blogging, but have just popped over to wish you and your family a great New Year. x