Well it’s midterm week in our neck of the woods. Every day after I pick them up from school, my
daughters begin studying for the next day.
One daughter goes to the basement and reads aloud until well after two
in the morning. The other one types
frantically on her computer, trying to outline two quarters of work in an
effort to remember all she has learned.
They’re stressed and grumpy beyond belief.
Squints decides this is the week he’ll cook: pad tai and
Japanese fried chicken and wonton noodles stuffed and deep fried.
My husband’s been in London for a week. He calls when he can, tries to diffuse the
stress long distance; reassures the girls that they’ll do fine; everything will
be fine; tells Squints he’s sorry he missed his dinner again.
The house is, naturally, a disaster. In every room of the house are scattered papers
and notebooks and highlighters and pens: psych notes; calc notes; trig notes;
biology and history and government and English.
Soy sauce stains my kitchen curtains.
The whole house smells of cooking oil.
The house feels out of control. I need to get things reigned back in.
I head to the dining room and wind the clock.
There’s something reassuring about the sound of a clock
hanging on a wall, quietly marking time as its family goes about its life, arranging
a day among ticks and tocks. A wound
clock and a swinging pendulum help me to get organized again.
And so on this, the last day of exams, we sweep through the
house, gathering up the detritus of our week; capping pens; shelving books;
putting our lives back in order; reordering our house as the clock reorders our
days into hours and minutes and seconds.
We order a pizza. Put
in a movie. We toast the end of midterms;
celebrating a successful week and an orderly home; the clock a subtle and persistent
And sometime in the next fifteen minutes—at least if it’s on
time—my husband’s plane will land.
And our lives will be back into our familiar patterns of
ticks and tocks and hours neatly divided.
Labels: Daughters, Sons