The Third Oldest Profession

Noli Me Tangere

When Patrick was a baby I was convinced that he found my presence comforting and so I kept him stapled to my body. This constant proximity (coupled with our respective temperments) resulted in neither of us sleeping, ever, and eventually we both went Tim-the-Ostler crazy; all hollow-eyed madness with hair like mouldy hay. Then someone sensible - probably a blog commenter but it might have been my Mom - said something like, good god, STEP AWAY FROM THE BABY which prompted us to move Patrick into a crib in his own room; although Steve had to sit on me until I acknowledged that our child was still breathing despite the fact that I wasn't there to do it for him. We all started sleeping better but I worried that he would feel abandoned so I always left a light glowing and lullabies playing in his room - very soothing.

Flash forward and - having sorted out what was perhaps the most incomprehensible speech pattern in history - Patrick emerged from the chrysalis of babyhood and garbledom to announce that he hated the lights and he hated the noise. Oh, and stop pawing at him so much.


Poor little proto-Patrick with his innate need for zero external stimuli; how he must have suffered in the touchy-touchy circumference of my fathomless love. Fortunately after almost twelve years together I have a better grasp on things. I know that he prefers to sleep in complete darkness. I know that under almost all circumstances he considers music distracting to the point of insanity. And I now know that he doesn't really like to be touched. Pretty much at all.

Sure, sometimes if we get engrossed in watching a movie Patrick might relax enough to let an elbow come near my arm or Steve's leg but for the most part he reacts to couch encroachment like he's been scalded. It was a big deal when he offered me a hug the other day even though I suspected he was experimenting with operant conditioning (I made ice cream; he hugged me.) I am a cuddler though and I have no pride, so when he asked if I wanted a hug I said oh boy gimme! I opened my arms but suddenly it was like playing London Bridge; Patrick's feet were planted a meter away as he leaned the top of his body forward and whipped his arms around me for a superquick grab and release. I told him that he hugs like a pickpocket. 

Good heavens, what was my point? I was thinking about... oh, right. I remember.

I was sitting here going through pictures from the past several weeks to see if I did anything other than drive people places (I didn't*) and I was struck by something I had not noticed before.

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Look at all that huggy, grabby, kissy and hand-holding! Granted Patrick might merely be trying to annoy with his affection (exhibit A: Edward trying to read on his Kindle) but still. Patrick. Smooshed up against someone. Skin touching skin. Arms enveloping heads. Human sacrifice, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria...

I am trying hard not to take it personally. Perhaps you non-clingy types have inborn exceptions for smaller siblings?

Oh and vaguely on topic


I call this 'Ultratogetherness' a photo featuring Caroline, the human bedside table. It's one thing to fall asleep while reading only to startle awake and discover the lights are on and a book is resting on your chest; it is quite another to have your roommate do the same thing using your face. I removed the book and Caroline had a crease on her cheek from where Edward had rested the spine as he read. 

I just like this picture.


**Things will be much better when Patrick switches schools next year but right now I feel like I only pull into our garage long enough to change tires. The hour drive to schools sucked in its own right but when we added twice weekly midday appointments for Edward things got exponentially worse.

On the plus side there are audiobooks. I am listening to five right now depending upon who is in the car with me and a couple of them are excellent.

Caroline and Edward and I just finished the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, which were favorite books of mine when I was in fourth or fifth grade. They are much more antiquated in their language than I had remembered, which probably would have made them unintelligible to the twins if not for the excellent narrator. It never ceases to amaze me how much clarity and meaning can be added to (or taken away from) a book with a good (or bad) reader. As it was we still lost Caroline's interest for chunks of the series but Edward and I enjoyed it muchly.

Meanwhile Edward and I started The Heroes' Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. This is a book that Patrick and I both read a few years ago and I remember thinking it was ok, mildly entertaining, certainly harmless enough for Edward. Enter Bronson Pinchot (who I will always and only remember as Serge from Beverly Hills Cop: It's not sexy, it's animal) as the reader and the story became much much better. Four stubby thumbs up.

Patrick and I started the Sisters Grimm on our roadtrip last Fall because I had picked up a couple of them at the library and Audible malfunctioned in the middle of some book I don't even remember. Eventually we became so addicted to the series that we tried to surreptiously listen to them (you know, very very quietly) in the car with Caroline and Edward on the way to school. That lasted for about a week until both Caroline and Edward started demanding clarification on plot points. I waffled on whether or not to continue with the books (commonsense media puts them around age 10 because of the violence and scary stuff) and I ultimately - probably selfishly - decided to continue. We are now on the last half of the last disc of the last book in the series and I am very glad we stuck with it. It depends on the kids but mine took the unpleasant parts in stride and we all really loved this series. 

When I don't have kids in the car I alternate between kilt-rippers and Georgette Heyer, although I have listened to every recorded Heyer book in existence and I am now settling for Heyer-lite in the form of Marion Chesney. Short, cheap, painless, prim, meticulous and very very Regency - the best ones are the Mannerling series and the Seven Sisters.

Finally, Patrick and I get one leg of the commute to ourselves and we are on the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I was extremely resistant to starting this series because I don't like to be excessively depressed by things that aren't real and, I dunno, there is something about a dystopian future in which children are forced to kill each other for the entertainment of late Roman-esque masses that just didn't sound like it was going to be very funny. And it isn't. BUT. The first book and a half are brilliant. Truly brilliant. Her characters are pitch-perfect, her story-telling is exceptional and she is a terrific writer. Sixth grade seems ok for these books but, like I said about the Sisters Grimm, it really depends upon the individual. I would have been prostrated by grief if I had read this series any time before high school. Patrick is much more prosaic than I am.

Today, again, I had to stop the book a few times on our way to pick up Caroline and Edward because it was making me anxious and Patrick had to say, "Fiction, Mom. Fiction. Okay? Fictiooooon."

I said, "I know. I know! But I am worried. Hunger Games! Threats from the Capitol! It doesn't look good."

"It's ok. It's fine. Hit play."

I asked, "Can I get a hug?"

"No," said Patrick.