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JUST TELL ME THE TRUTH
June 2, 2004
 
I snap at Q when he reminds me that I haven't repaired his sweater. I had completely forgotten about the sweater. I haven't sewn on his collar button either. Damn it, remind me! I snarl. You know I forget things. But I can easily imagine that a certain trepidation might well overtake him: choosing a time to remind me could be risky.

Just tell me the truth, we say, and then we punish people for doing so. Why didn't you tell me? we ask in aggrieved innocence. Because I thought you might kill me if I did. Oh. Right. I can be a little scary, we think. If I want people to tell me things, I'd better not murder them when they do.

Life together: events and moods. Misread signals, mistaken intentions. Altered schedules and changed gears. Unconscious agendas. How is it that anybody ever succeeds at it? How on earth do we manage to grow up?

All life is so unlikely. Conception itself -- you mean to tell me that the sperm has to find the egg all by himself in that dark place, and that he has to do it while he's swimming? It's a wonder any of us are here. Do you mean to tell me that I must climb a step higher than my knees? But a toddler tries and tries, and eventually she does it. Once they do, they realize that they love steps, that they want to climb every stair they see, take a half hour to walk one block because they have to climb every stoop they pass.

These hard things are worth doing. Well worth it. That feels good, Q says, as I slide one hand under the small of his back. Good. I'm glad it feels good. Makes up for some other things, maybe, that don't feel so good.

We're here. We learned to climb steps, to read, to tie shoes, to use a computer. We're learning other things: self-control, mercy, the delay of reward. To tell the truth and to hear it. Someday these things will be as reflexive as climbing steps or tying shoes, I pray. Someday.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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