5 Aug

I run downstairs to get the anti-itch pill that the doctor prescribed to him, when I hear Gus call out “Mom, I’m just going to take a little nap in the tub!”

“No no no!” I call back, “I’m coming with your medicine.  Don’t sleep in the tub, silly!”

I hurry back upstairs to find him playing quietly.  He is sliding around on his belly in the tub with his mouth open wide and then lifting up his head and letting the water drop out.  It’s been such a long, fun-filled, exhausting day, I just let him and don’t chide him not to put the bath water in his mouth.

I admire the stark contrast between the brown of the small of his back and his white butt as he slip slides around. A summer well spent.

He finds his way out of the tub and I gingerly pat him dry.  It’s been a week since he first got poison ivy, but it only seems to be getting worse. New blossoms of red appearing every morning, every evening.  When will we be on the downward slope of this particular boyhood rite of passage?

I keep re-reading articles on the internet about poison ivy hoping to glean some new information that can make it stop.  But there is no new information.  It all says the same things.  It usually lasts two weeks but can last longer.  You can only get it from touching the oils, not from touching someone else’s rash. You can’t spread it to new parts of your body by scratching it and then touching another part of your body. (Well you can, but only when there is oil still on it.)  New patches can appear long after the first ones appear  for a variety of reasons.  It will look as if the rash is spreading, but it is not actually spreading.  It is just finally awakening what was there all along.

I read about it each night and wonder the same thing: how many more blossoms of poison ivy are hiding on this sweet child, waiting to bloom?

He hates the creams the doctor prescribed to him. One for his face. One for his body.  But he sits docile on his floor and allows me to hunt down the red splotches that weren’t even there this morning and rub the cream in.

I help him dress tonight.  I put him in some of his older brother’s pajamas. Loose, breezy, covered. He is happy to be channeling Henry for the night. Dressed for bed as one of his heroes.

He does not complain about the creams, or the itching, or the fact that he’s completely, utterly, totally exhausted.  He just crawls into bed and I shut off the light. He looks at me seriously “Mom, I don’t think I can sing tonight. I think I can only listen to singing tonight.”

So I sing our song, and he listens, He is immediately drowsy. I watch his pupils dilate and his eyelids droop and then some thought or sound brings him back to me and he looks at me alert and smiles contentedly. And then he’s fading into sleep again.  Over and over we do this through the whole song. And I am singing as soft as I can, which is requiring me to remember how to use some very rusty vocal technique, but I want this song to last as long as I can make it last.

When I am done, my silence brings him back to alertness. He smiles at me, content. I kiss his forehead which smells of shampoo.  He watches me until the door is closed.  I know this because I close it, and then need to open it almost immediately for one more look at him. I find his eyes still fixed on the crack of the door where my face just disappeared.  I blow him a kiss and then finally close the door to let him sleep.

I descend the stairs feeling a fresh blossom of love blooming for him, like ivy. The opposite of poison. Deeply rooted. Always there. Just waiting for the right moment to appear.


3 Responses to “Ivy”

  1. Leonor August 5, 2018 at 6:16 am #

    Aww Gen, hope it gets better soon. What I’d also like to know is when are you going to write a book!!!!?

  2. Kathy A. August 5, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

    so beautiful, Gen. I love your writing.

  3. Mom August 5, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

    So good Gen. you paint a great picture with your words.

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