My son announced the other day that he was never going to get married.  The haughty proclamation is his preferred method of conversation, a whiney squeal a close second.  Because he is 4, most of my responses to his polite inquiry are unsatisfying to him in that they range from mocking laughter to raging hostility. The succinct “YES!” is as rare as a Bigfoot  sighting, despite what he believes are reasonable questions.

“I’m having a corn dog” he drops casually while pulling my eyelids open at 3am, “ok?”

He has developed a strategy of delivering a powerful blast of righteous entitlement and then confidently following his bliss in hopes that I wont stop him from jumping off the roof or whatever. He said he was never going to get married because then he wouldn’t have any fights, and therefore would not have to divorce like his father and I did.  He didn’t actually say “therefore” – he’s far to busy for smooth transition – but the emotional complexity of his reasoning made me shudder: would we be deconstructing the films of Stanley Kubrick by grammar school?  He went on to ask if he could be a daddy but just by himself, without a wife? Thankfully, he speaks in continuous 20 minute intervals without breathing, so there was no pause in the conversation.  I didn’t have to tackle the quagmire of how you need two to make a baby, but could raise that baby by yourself or with a wife or a husband or a friend or your parents or another family or a llama or a circus clown. He wants to be a daddy, he said, but when his dad and I split up

IMG_3446it made him sad, and now here he was already worrying that his non-existent child would suffer because he and his non-existent partner had a non-existent problem without a non-existent solution.

I tell him that everyone argues.  I tell him lots of times people can simply work things out, but sometimes they can’t. I hope he won’t remember how brutally his dad and I fell apart, how hard I fought so that he would never live in a house of apathy and anger.  He would never have to wonder if it would crush his spirit, like it almost did to mine.

He said if he was older, or the true pinnacle of emotional stability, a teenager, he could handle it.  He said by then he wouldn’t even care. My insides made a churning sound like a belly full of questionable sushi at the perfect articulation of my deep fear; that he would have grown up not traumatized, but numb. Not finely tuned to cruelty but blind and deaf to it, tolerant of it, accepting of it.

“We’re getting ice cream!” he randomly declares from the back seat, allowing the power of his conviction to delude him that I have already agreed, despite the fact that we have a million other things to do and it’s 8:30 in the morning.  For me it’s not great being bossed around by a Sultan, but as I dutifully indulge His Excellency and pull into the lot, he cheers. Despite his bravado and impressive volume he is never really certain he will get everything he wants, and is always surprised and excited to see it actually materialize before his wide, delighted eyes.

I know the feeling.

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