The Bean is having another not-nap today. There is distinctly unrestful thumpery emanating from his room, but so far no crying for me to come.
He’s not ready to give up his nap, that much is clear. He never napped on Monday and was an emotional wreck for the remainder of the day. Yesterday we were on the subway to the Bronx Zoo at his usual nap time. We were with friends he adores, but he spent most of the ride staring, glassy-eyed. He steadfastly refused each offer of a bottle of milk (his usual at bedtime and nap), although he would normally accept a bottle with no going-to-bed strings attached in a heartbeat. I thought he might do the usual inconvenient baby trick of falling asleep two minutes before our arrival — last time we did this, he fell hard asleep two minutes before we pulled into an elevator-less station where construction forced us to make a three-stairway transfer — but no. He was full of energy to run (and run away) at the zoo, to find the tigers, to prove I’d been wrong when I told him there were no buffalo or red pandas (apparently he remembered them from his last trip, the better part of a year ago), to continually ask for the cookies I’d told him were a treat for the ride home.
He desperately wanted to see the giraffes, though, but when we headed their way after lunch, he fell asleep in his stroller before we could see them and did not wake up until we were nearly home again. Whereupon, seeing our friends, he smiled and said, “on a special, special train!” Then he spread his arms in a comic “what gives?” gesture and said with a twinkling eye, “Oh! No cookies?”
One possibility is that he’s ready to switch his nap to the afternoon, which would complicate our lives in some ways and simplify them in others, if only I had the first idea how to facilitate the switch. But I wonder if there’s something else in play here. Several times in the past week, he has woken up — or rather, not woken up — with night terrors, long periods of flailing and a kind of screaming I never hear from him in neurologically ordinary moments. Screeching that would peel paint off the walls, that floods my body with adrenaline, my brain frantic to find who is skinning my baby alive. That kind of sound. He’s been like this before, generally after naps — I refuse to believe these are tantrums; he’s so clearly not there — but not in a few months. Their reappearance makes me wonder if the nap refusal is part of a larger pattern of sleep disturbance, perhaps related to a leap in cognitive/neurological development.
It’s happened before: the last time sleep went deeply to hell (not that it’s ever great around here), Sugar noted that his vocabulary was just exploding. Growing a brain is a lot of work; big changes are bound to require some disruptive furniture-moving in there. No wonder he’s a mess.
I wonder if any of my readers are surprised that I’m not posting about the goings-on at the Supreme Court this week. Naturally, I feel strongly about these cases. I even have some thoughts about them, imagine that. I don’t have a good answer, except that I somehow can’t bear to. Just reading about them for a few minutes at a time leaves me in tears. Sugar can’t bear to read at all.
I nearly wrote just now that we are hardly on the front lines of these cases, living in a state that recognizes our marriage and having the usual denial about the death-related problems Edie Windsor’s DOMA case centers on. But the truth is, we are on the front lines here, whether we want to be or not. By virtue of living our lives in the most truthful way we know how, we are subject to having those lives dissected in, at best, dispassionate terms by powerful strangers in faraway chambers. Moreover, our lives are subject to discussion by everyone with a mouth or a keyboard, and what isn’t deliberately dehumanizing is too often the kind of devil’s advocate “objectivity” unpacked very well here and here (in terms of feminism, but a very close match). While nothing about the details of my days this week sounds terribly heroic — nap strikes, zoo trips, endless games of trains — I feel nevertheless buffeted by invisible winds.
Yesterday, my Facebook feed bloomed red. Huge numbers of my friends, including tons of straight ones (and one who seems to be calling herself straight now, despite an impressive track record to the contrary in her youth, ahem) have replaced their avatars with HRC’s red equal sign logo. Then came the mutated memes, the equal signs made of wedding rings, card catalog cards, broken matzo squares. There are Rotko-esque ones, Muppet ones, Lucy/Peppermint Patty ones, and one made of belly-flashing corgis. Eventually, even I had to get over my profound irritation that HRC, who are admittedly dab hands at branding, is going to be associated in people’s minds with this moment, when it is the ACLU who deserves the praise and the donations. (Okay, I’m not over it. But it’s no longer my principle feeling.) It truly is remarkable that, as one friend put it, “for the first time in my life, being gay is cool.”
Like a number of my married gay friends, I changed my profile picture to an image from our wedding. I found I liked seeing these friends marching along my feed in their fancy dress, cutting cake and exchanging vows, kissing and just grinning at the camera. There is something visually right, to me, about these pictures being surrounded by the sea of red, the allies sublimating themselves for a moment to those of us who, like it or not, find ourselves on the front lines.
This moment is incredible; if you’d told me, even five years ago, this week would happen as it has, I’d never have believed you. I can’t believe, as I frequently tell my students, that the conversation has gone from, “Should gays be allowed to teach school/live in settled areas,” to, “Should gays be allowed to marry,” in only the time it’s taken me to get from high school to here. It doesn’t seem possible, anymore than the strength our elders have shown in carrying us here seems like something I could find in myself. I see this picture of Edie Windsor* entering the court today, and I see a warrior. I see this picture and I think of song by Sweet Honey In the Rock: I don’t know how our elders have done it, but I do remember.
*from the ACLU twitter feed
I admire more than I can say the bravery of the people who have taken the most public steps to bring us here, though I know all of us who have made this issue seem real to our friends and families are helping in small ways, too. Even though small ways are exhausting in a week like this. Allies, we are so happy to have you, so proud of you. I can’t think I’m the only one who feels the strain, though, so I ask one more thing this week. Please, be gentle. As in the Bean’s brain, big changes are happening in our worlds. It’s surely no wonder if some of us are a bit of a mess.