About a week or so ago I visited my middle sister, known as Aunt B, and the kids. For a while when I’d visit I took a box of Dunkin doughnuts and I was the best aunt ever. Because of my affiliation with the health and wellness crowd, I had to have a talk with myself about advocating weekly dozen doughnut night. Now, I take fruit and feel much better about it.
The youngest, Maxwell, requested straw-da-berries and apples. It’s an unfortunate fact of produce that what we want isn’t always sitting awesome on the shelves. Such was the case with straw-da-berries.
Listen, I dug around in the stacks of plastic baskets containing the dark cranberry hues of fruit on the down slope. There were brownish stems capping the pitiful lot, black gorges in their sides as though some went out with great fight, sidearm swinging and gallant. This isn’t fruit one takes to a sweet little guy like Maxwell.
So he gets apple slices and grapes. Because I know I’m showing up without the coveted straw-da-berries I go all in with both white and red grapes.
When I arrive at the house, Maxwell runs across the hardwood floor, throws both arms around both my legs and explains, “I missed you!” Sigh.
I begin unpacking the fruit. He’s dancing around the kitchen because this is what we do. I take him stuff and we dance about it. Eventually my niece, who is thirteen, joins the party though she is somewhat sullen and pretending at turns not to be interested in what we are doing.
I pull out the apple slices. We like those, and want them on a plate to carry around. This pleases me. “Straw-da-berries?” The mighty three year old with the compelling eyes inquires, looking up at me through a sheet of thick black eyelashes.
“They didn’t have any.” I lie. Aunt B and I decided it was better to tell this one fib than explain rotten fruit.
“Grapes!” I smile.
His lower lip starts to slip past his chin, his jaw hanging lower as his gaze rises to his mother.
“Do you need a timeout?” Aunt B says to the disappointed child. I look at her like the alien invasion has officially started; I witness it first hand.
In response to his mother’s inquiry, Maxwell becomes more excited. He dances side to side with an apple in one hand and and inquiring gesture reaching up towards me with the other, “Straw-da-berries?”
“I didn’t get any.” I tell him, my own face growing long and dejected.
He whoofs out something that sounds like, “Ah HA!” but with such a down beat I know tears will follow.
“Do we need a timeout?”
I slice my hand between my sister and myself as I lean against the kitchen counter, “No! Girl, I can’t take that today. Absolutely not. I can’t….”
You know how timeouts usually go. If not, just watch an episode of The Super Nanny and get back with me. The kid is acting out then ends up in time out and before we know it, tears, snot, toys and all hope for a restful evening have been trod upon by the maligned wishes of a toddler.
Call me selfish, but my nerves weren’t up for a timeout this evening. My sister looks at me like I’m the one who has been body snatched, with a You Don’t Know Me snear. She scoops up Maxwell and back we all go to the bedroom. I march behind because I feel responsible, not having brought the much sought after end of summer straw-da-berries.
“Have you ever seen timeout?”
“Yes.” I say, but not at this house. Aunt B runs her house sort of like we grew up, when we just hung out until it was time to do stuff. I don’t recall a high intensity day to day as a kid. So this timeout business is more than I expected.
“Here, let’s take a timeout Buddy.” She says.
My heart rises to my throat. I think about landing in the corner with him, noses at the wall together in solidarity.
My sister pulls the sheets and comforter on her own bed back to reveal icy cool sheets, refreshing and smooth. She places Maxwell carefully on the wrinkle free surface of the bed which I suspect has a pillow top mattress. She places his melon head on a stack of pillows before drawing his special blakie up the length of his long baby body. I see tension draining out of his face as timeout begins.
Aunt B pets his head, draws the covers up to his chest and turns the television on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which is recorded and readily available for situations just such as this. She clicks the side lamp off. “Stay here and rest. I’ll be back.”
I find myself suddenly very envious of Maxwell’s timeout and wish someone would do the same for me. She looks at me as we leave the room, “He just needed to get quiet for a few minutes and compose himself. What the hell else do you think time out is for?”
This evening I was in hot yoga at Uru2. I know, can you believe it? And right in the middle of this hot as the noonday sun class with one of the nicest yoga instructors I know, I remember that timeout I witnessed and see the comparison between yoga and Aunt B’s prescription for whatever ails you.
Yoga practice is like cool sheets and a nice episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the middle of a stressful situation, like Publix not having a decent straw-da-berry selection. We will be visiting this correlation in my classes, along with variations on savasana (end of class relaxation pose better known as corpse pose) and bringing the benefits of timeout into the world using breath and the meaningful art of hesitation. We’re gonna have a great time.