i knew the challenge was coming when, at 7 am, his bedroom door opened, and i heard the slow shuffle of bare feet towards the living room.
he's up to something, i thought. he doesn't want to go to church and he is scheming up an excuse.
a stomachache. not very original, but fairly well executed. a cuddle on the sofa, a pitiful look in those baby blue eyes. a whimper.
he is about to throw down the "i'm not going to church" gauntlet. it's coming. i'm just going to continue my morning routine. maybe if i don't bring it up, he won't.
breakfast? breakfast will be good. a bowl of cheerios. how about some bacon? yes! i love bacon. can you make it a little crispier, please?
surely he will forget about his upset tummy after eating. the food disappears in an instant. i disappear to my room to get ready. still, no one has dared to say the word, "church." i count down the minutes until it is time. "get dre-essed," i sing out. i am positive, upbeat as i dab on eyeliner.
but i don't FEEL good!! stomp, stomp, STOMP down the hallway, measured steps that end with a pathetic slump onto the master bed. i'm not GOING! i don't FEEL good!
i choose a necklace, measure my breaths in the mirror. "but you ate breakfast. i'm sure you're fine."
muffled grunts from the lump on the bed, a defiant head shake or two. "uh-huh. i'm. not. going."
i snuggle up to him, stroke his hair, will the warmth of my body to ease this rigid form that is planted on the bed.
"get OFF of me!" he turns away. "leave me ALONE!"
moving on, i get dressed in the closet, hear him pry himself off the bed and make haste back down the hallway. i slip on my shoes, and prepare for what's next. i'm not going to yell. i'm not going to yell. i'm not going to yell...
i'm staying HERE! i'm going to play video games. you can't make me go!
you need to be dressed and in the car in 5 minutes. i take the dog out for a quick trip around the backyard. i eye the back of the house, looking for movement, but feeling only defiant energy. back inside, and he has steeled himself for the fight. i'm not going to yell. i'm not going to yell. i'm not going yell.
i don't see why i should have to go! i'm not! i don't FEEL WELL!!
i haven't yelled, and he doesn't know quite what to make of it. i apply lip gloss, methodically move my keys and wallet to my black purse, empty the remains of my coffee cup into the sink. i don't make eye contact with him as i walk by. "you need to be in the car in 5 minutes."
rage, rage, rage. no!!!!!
at the last moment, i grab up all of the remote controls, pull the door shut behind me, breathe deeply as i make my way to the car. it would be so easy to give in. i'm tired, too! we could skip this week. we don't have to do this.
i call mat. this isn't the first time i've called mat from the car. ican'tdothisican'tdothisican'tdothis. i'm not going to yell. but he needs to get out here. he needs to know that he can't just wear me down with his yelling. he needs to know that one hour out of his day is not going to ruin the rest of it.
i back the car up, positioning for the eventual trip down the driveway. i can't leave him here. i won't leave him here. i said be in the car in 5 minutes. he needs to learn that we can't shout ourselves out of things we don't want to do. we need to teach him that.
the back door slams. it is him. he is wearing yesterday's clothes. his hair is not brushed. but he is here.
we pull out of the driveway, turn towards town. there is a stony silence, every once in a while, a groan from the passenger seat. we are heading to church together.
and i did not yell.