Monday, October 10, 2011

Tears in the Dark, Little Sisters, and a Broken Promise

To write about my Tim as if he were a paragon, I do not wish to convey those are my thoughts.  He was a simple, everyday teenager who came into the world kicking and screaming as most children do when born.  Still he was my son.  I overlook many imperfections as most fathers do when it comes to their children.  He had his moods, his quarks, his fallacies; but despite all these characteristics that make him human – he was of course my son.  As any father and son, we had our arguments, disagreements, disputes, and each set in our ways and beliefs.  No matter what came of those troubles, Tim knew he was loved.

In early October, 2009, Tim was one month into his 8th grade year.  He turned 14 during the summer.  His mother and I were separated; Tim decided to stay with me.  He didn’t want to leave me alone and most of all didn’t want to leave his home.  I tried everything to keep him happy and feeling “normal” with the whirlwind and turmoil of my marital status.  When I picked up his sisters to visit, Tim would help me care for them.  He took care of me after his mother left; it was an experience that matured him beyond his years and changed his outlook on love and trust.

He was due to have his braces removed in a short time after having them applied the previous year just before he was to start the 7th grade and at a new school.  After the braces he hardly smiled.  That August, 2008, I took Tim for an Orthodontist consult and by luck – good or bad – there were a few cancellations.  The orthodontist is named Dr. Klatte. 

Tim teased that it sounded like Klaatu, the name of the alien visitor from the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The orthodontist was more than happy to use those openings to install the mounts and wire.  Tim was not happy about it.
“Great, now Jack has something new to tease me about.”  Tim said as his once playful grin changed to a grimace of despair.

“Do you mean that little girly boy; the one that looks like Damien from the Omen?”  I asked feeling guilty for my son’s dismay.  Tim was sensitive about how others thought of him.  He was sensitive about his outward projection of himself.

“Yeah.  Him.”

I looked at Tim.  I knew how he felt.  I never had braces, but when I was a kid I faced bullies and teasing.  I was teased about my mom’s divorce, living in a blended family, having pimples – all the things that as adults we don’t think of until we run into a nemesis at a high school reunion.  The only thing I could do was no different from most parents facing a dilemma of their child’s happiness and self-esteem.  I consoled Tim and gave him a different outlook on the situation.

“Tim, the doctor said the braces would be on for only just over fourteen months.  So this is what you can say to Jack: ‘These will be off within a year; you’re going to be a faggot for the rest of your life.’”

Tim laughed.  We drove to seek out a chocolate shake and something that would brighten his day. 

So now October, a year later.  Tim was helping his sister, Alaina, out of her car seat.  Alaina can be tenacious especially for the age of three.  She refused Tim’s assistance.  Each time he tried to unbuckle the straps to the car seat she would hit his hands.  When he finally did she began screaming.  Tim tried very hard to pick her up from the car seat but Alaina continued to wrestle and fidget, flaying her arms and kicking her legs.  I had told Tim several times before that he didn’t know his own strength.  As he was picking his sister up he was actually hurting her.  I know he didn’t mean to hurt her – it wasn’t as if he was a giant oaf like Lenny in Of Mice and Men – but he had the developing muscles of a man, but with the mindset of a boy.  He was gentle by nature.

I have to admit I was having a bad day.  Alaina and Tim fought all day.  Tim would try to help me care for his sister; Alaina wouldn’t allow him to do anything.  I saw the way Tim was holding his sister.  Her screams were so high pitch, the type of shriek that goes down your spine and bounces around your skull.  I told Tim to put his sister down.

“You’re hurting her.  Just put her down.  I’ve told you before about how strong you are.”

“I’m not; she’s just being a pain in the ass.”

“Put her down!”  I yelled at him.  I don’t know why but I suddenly hit him in the face.  I had never hit him in his life.  The most I had ever used to employ any form of corporal punishment was a two-finger tap and a slight clip to the back of his head – but never to cause pain, leave a mark, or draw blood.  I looked down at my hand and saw blood.  Tim stood holding his hands over his mouth.  I wiped the blood from my hand onto my pant leg.  

“Daddy, I’m bleeding.”  I looked at Tim.  A slight trickle of blood smeared off from his lip.  I pulled his lip back.  I saw the wire from his top braces not in line with the rest of the set-up; the mount over his eye-tooth became dislodged where it was cemented.

“Oh Monk, I am so sorry.”

“It’s okay, Daddy.”

“No its not.  Come on lets clean you up and I’ll have to call the Orthodontist to get this fixed.”

That night as Tim slept; I sat on my sofa in the darkness of the living room.  I cried for hurting him.  I was ashamed because it was among the promises I had made him when he was born.  I hated myself that night because I broke not only skin but a promise. 

Klaatu barada nikto