In the land of the limited verbal communicators where I live, I’m learning a new language, and it’s quiet effective.
When it’s a slam and a slap -that’s Jeff. His OCD has long meant that every drawer, door and cabinet be tightly and fully aligned, some kind of self-ordering done by the kerflooey mind. While the birds chirp, the slam of the basement door means he’s off to his suspended swing, the cocoon that hugs him in a way he won’t let me. He isn’t usually an early riser, so if I hear him I know I’m really late. Probably missed three self-imposed deadlines. Lost my fifteen minutes of quiet time, my sustenance for the parts of me that need to be more than a mom.
Or if the slap is closer, it’s the hall bathroom closet – Jeff’s voice again, not Will’s. How dare a sock protrude from its corner, fallen from the dirty clothes hamper. Jeff will shove it hard, waking me if I’m dozing.
When it’s a scrapey hinge, the door-whisper of a sneak – that’s Will for sure. I have to hope it’s the bathroom door partially closing. Not the violin-bow of at the French door downstairs, the “fah-so-la-ti-DO! do” melody that arcs upwards, then descends to a slap-bang. Meaning he’s invaded the kitchen and the fresh bread is likely to be defiled by a fist-full grab.
If it’s an automated creak, a metronome in the night that drifts upwards two floors from the garage door – it’s Will, and it means trouble. I bolt shoeless into the hall, trying not to slip on last night’s newspapers that fall as I inevitably doze after two paragraphs. I rush to see if he’s escaped – my biggest fear. Wandering out of the driveway, lilting-voice singing a Raffi tune as he surveys the neighbor’s front door, illuminated in the night. Leaving the basement door wide open of course, for the local chipmunks and field mice to ferret out a stray crumb in the basement.
“WILL!!” I bellow, unaware that it’s 2:15 am and my neighbors may not appreciate this wake-up call.
He’ll return Cheshire-cat grinned, proud of himself for having come at my command, looking at me with those eyes that say he loves me most of anything in the world. But why am I always so angry at him? I mean, you taught me to open the garage door so I could get on the bus. Get the mail. Pick up the newspaper. What’s the big deal Mom?
I’ll launch my harangue like a rocket pre-loaded for a heat-seeking target. I’ll wait til he returns then I’ll wallop shut the basement door from the garage, its hollowness echoing like my own voice, over and over again though no but me hears it. Will will look down at me as he bolts upstairs, and still he’ll grin – only muting that impish smile a bit, enough to scurry in the house and up the stairs while I assess the collateral damage. Bread shards on the floor maybe, or God forbid another bag of chocolate chips chewed open, though I really think I removed them months ago.
I’ll send him back to bed, lay my head on my pillow and wait. For the gentle pad of his feet into the bathroom. For the feet to hopefully pad back. I might snarl “Flush!”, then hear him comply. Or there might be a groan from dead-log of a spouse next to me, who rarely rouses through this entertainment, other than to mumble about the time.
When I hear a short soft whine of his bedroom door as he returns, I can rest. My door ajar, I’ll bid my eyes close but stay watchful.
But if there’s a gentle foot-pad, or if a whisper of light warms what I long to be cool slumber, it’s an alarm that only I can hear. He’s downstairs. He’s turned on the light to the powder room. If there’s gurgling, he’s running cold water over his hands. If a masculine lowness of the rarely opened dining room door talks, he’s tiptoeing through the dining room toward the pantry with the box of Cranberry Morning. Or heading or the the freezer and the cookies we made last week.
No need for Google Translate to comprehend this language. I’ve had a night-long immersion course. Get going, Mom. Your feet must talk back.