Monday, June 29, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole

It's June, the month when light-filled hours flood us with fizzy serene energy, the month that answers the question I ask every May: "How on earth could spring get any more lovely?"

Father's Day was bright and beautiful, love pouring out all around, fun games of bocce and bowling, high white clouds overhead as we left Pinstripes. "Do you like the sky we ordered?" and he did, as well as the customized pair of Converse and the cake with "SuperHero Dad" in red and blue icing. Randy seemed very happy and I was content, because I wanted his special day to be as good as mine was.

On Mother's Day, I had wanted so much and I got it all. A yummy brunch, time with the girls and Randy, time alone to visit the memorial trees planted for my family in LaGrange. In the morning, we took the girls to see the latest Chicago Children's Theater production and their rock 'n roll Alice in Wonderland hit all the right thematic notes for our spring season.

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are cerebral books composed by a mathematician, challenging to many kids for whom the puns, wordplay and absurdity fly over their heads. This production chose to find the heart in the source material by interpreting the Jabberwocky as a monster who howls all your self-doubts and fears. "Ugly! Clumsy! Stupid!" screams the monster and its destruction is both as simple a task and as epic a battle as convincing yourself the lies are not real.

Anthony Lane in June The New Yorker writes on a new book about Lewis CarrollConversations about what is real, what is possible, and how rubbery the rules that govern such distinctions turn out to be abound in the tales of Alice. Yet they are sold as children’s books, and rightly so. A philosopher will ask how the identity of the self can be preserved amid the ceaseless flux of experience, but a child—especially a child who is growing so fast that she suddenly fills an entire room—will ask more urgently, as Alice does, “Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different.” Children, viewed from one angle, are philosophy in motion.

And Andrew Solomon, in The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression

The University of Michigan's Arnold Sameroff is a developmental psychiatrist who believes everything in the world is a variable in every experiment; all events are over-determined; nothing can be understood except by knowing all of the mysteries of God's creation. Sameroff would suggest that though people have certain complaints in common, they have individual experiences, with individual constellations of complaints and individual networks of causes. "You know, there are these single-gene hypotheses," he says. "Either you have the gene or you don't, and those are very attractive to our quick-fix society. But it's never going to work."

We are down the rabbit hole as of late. Curiouser and curiouser. Logic and proportion have fallen something something. Little girls eat a bit of cake and grow so fast they seem to soar toward the ceiling. I'm actually looking forward to junior high (can you imagine?) as a respite from the challenges of middle school. Skewed sensitivities, hormonic (surely the opposite of harmonic! #dontcallmeshirley #canthelpit #sorrynotsorry) behavior, all facets of the strange way-place that is pre-adolescence.

And I'm off to California tomorrow to see my brother Ron. Traveling without the girls or Randy feels Off, but Necessary. Sometimes my own Jabberwock lurks.

Breathe. Breathe. There is a wise mind within all of us; it knows our capabilities and the truth of the world.

Last night at dinner, we had rode our bikes to Nick's which is one of my very favorite summer family things we do, last night at Nick's Nora said, "I'll miss you! I wish you could come to Fox Lake with us," and I sank a degree before my Alice chimed in, "She's going to see her brother. Daddy will see his sister and Mom will see her brother. It's the right thing to do."

My dear fighter, my Alice lost in the mazes and riddles of her age and her own unique self, my dear dear daughter bringing symmetry, sense and peace to me, gifts I so much want to be able to return again to her. Breathe. Breathe. Let us all breathe.