Saturday, March 05, 2011

Mostly Braggin', But Not About Knittin'

Well, my backup plan for not having enough purple yarn was foiled last week when I somehow misplaced the little bit of purple I did have left to finish off the last sleeve.  I admittedly deserve to be in such a fix. I often don't plan ahead. This may be a stretch, but there's a line in W.W. Jacobs'  short story "The Monkey's Paw," that I've always thought kind of reminded me of me and my knitting.

"Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire."

OK, so, there's the reference to the "old lady knitting," that I like, but my connection is the idea of "daring" within the context of a placid activity like chess, an activity that the rest of the world might see as...boring, or at least unexciting. "Wildness" in knitting also seems in congruous, but I can't count how many times I've started a project with the distinct possibility that I would run short of yarn.  Now, isn't that living on the edge? When I was in college, I would make my aunt cringe because I'd fix mistakes by pulling out the needles out of my work and ripping away, even if I was in the middle of a complicated lace pattern. I'm radical, I tell you, radical. I do have a possible solution to my yarn shortage, which was to order one more skein of Swish from Knit Picks. I'm hoping that maybe it won't matter that I won't have the same dye lot, since it is a heathered yarn.

Most of you know I'm an English teacher, and contrary to what you may see reported on Fox News, we teachers work our butts off a good deal of the time and can sometimes only grab minutes of personal time a day, even during a regular week, but it was the last week of the quarter this week, so knitting was pretty much out completely. I did take a little time out though on Thursday to be head timer (which means I wear a little badge, mostly) at the first swim meet of the season and to watch my son "fly" through the water. Kai has swum competitively since he was five, and he's always been good, but, on the other hand, when he was a freshman, he weighed less then one hundred pounds. He's now about eighty pounds heavier and a little over six feet tall, and he's FAST. OK, I admit it. It is fun to have a kid who's...awesome...or at least...really good. He swam his first race, the 200 individual medley, at about a body length behind the leader for the first 150 yards. In the last 5 yards, he pulled ahead and won the race. Yeah! I love swimming!

I was already happy with Kai this week because he wrote a great poem for my class, which made me feel like maybe his dad and I have done a pretty good job of giving him a good start in life. I shared Paige's poem several years ago, which I assign to my juniors every year. They have to write a poem based on Walt Whitman's poem "A Child Went Forth." Almost all of them, even  students who will do nothing else with enthusiasm, write wonderful poems. I, of course, anticipated seeing what my own kids would write. Neither one of them disappointed me-- no lines like,"And the mother loudly, yelling at her husband and kids, and the dirty dishes in the sink," ha, ha.

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain
part of the day, or for
Many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The scent of buckwheat pancakes became part of this child,
And baking powder biscuits, scrambled eggs with Pace salsa,
and beagles, and the Beatles songs.
And the summers in Nebraska, and the holidays up North
with the hippies, and the weekly Trader Joe's visits.
And the waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons,
And wanting to go running with his mother, all became part
of him.

The rainy first month and almost every other hot month
became part of him,
Warm milk, and the gravy-soaked meals of Christmas,
And archery targets of foam in the backyard,
And the fresh fruits and vegetables of his mother's garden,
and the failures of his own gardens.

And the walks to school and to Mary's, whence he had
once stayed,
And the first two and a half high school years that had
pass'd so quickly,
And the soccer, football, track, and swimming games and meets,
And the spiked hair, the vans and high socks on everyone,
who was anyone,
And all the changes of Taft, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father'd him, and she that had conceiv'd
him in her womb, and birth'd him,
They have this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day-they became part
of him.

The mother, both in class and at home, helpful, loving,
beautiful; also becoming one of his best friends, sometimes
chore enforcer, or spending hours on the phone with her
family, and the jokingly harsh words like, "Oh you shut up"
coming out of her person
The father, quiet, kind, sarcastic, care-free;
The online political debates, bike rides, and reading in
the middle of the night, And the healthy and unhealthy,
comfort foods. The family traditions, the educated words
the ever-swelling heart, Affection that will never be faded
-the sense of the future-the thought if, after all, it should
prove amiss,

The doubts of school-time and the doubts during sports,
the curious why and what, Why it is how it is, or what
is the answer, is it all memories and hopes?
Men and women disappointed and pleased, what
is their purpose? The Playmobiles and Legos, the long-
time friends, and pesto pasta nights, the favorite monthly
soda. The before bedtime stories, The animals old and new,
and once, feeding cockroaches to the kind-hearted dog.
The invisible and happy juice, the imaginative Lord of
the Rings reenactments with friends, The heart breaking
losses in football and swimming, the lost toys, the late
night Raiding and PVP, the concern of the approve-able
report cards, which destined his freedom,
The hope of attending the University of Nebraska,
The wondering what will happen to your kids,
when will you die?

These became part of that child who went forth every day,
and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.


Willow said...

Well done, Kai!

Anonymous said...

You have made a good job of producing a fine son!!

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- congratulations to Kai -- and YOU!

WendyBee said...

Oh my.....
I too have teenaged sons, but I think that if I didn't, I would loooooong for at least one. They really do extend our dreams that much closer to fruition, don't they? Be proud, mother, be very, very proud.

Neesay said...

Aw--makes me miss my son. You have every right to be proud.