Incorrect & Opposite

by jkatejohnston

16 January 2014

Dear Max,

I have a note here for which I no longer remember the context. “All of those are incorrect. And opposite.”

*

I broke him. God damn it, this would never happen to Teresa.

Remember how he threw up last Thursday at school? Well he did it again yesterday, Wednesday. We know it’s self-induced because he’s not sick and we’ve seen him do this self-gagging thing at home that is just so unattractive. He decides that something is gross and goes into this exaggerated gagging that is so committed and physical that he actually produces something. We had a stern talk with him. No more throwing up at school. No one wants to see that. Teresa did most of the talking. Afterward he said he was leaving Sacramento for good, and he walked out the front door, but he came back when I started reading books without him. I told him he can leave Sacramento tomorrow.

So today, I was driving him to school, something I never do, and which apparantly I don’t know how to do. (I’m working at home today, which is a new thing.) “I can’t go to school today. I threw up! Teresa doesn’t respect me. I respect her, and she disrespects me! Mr. Andersen—the janitor guy—said I should go home yesterday because I threw up. You have two choices: turn around right now or I will leave Sacramento and go adopted. That is your choice.”

I told him we do respect him, and let’s just see how it goes today. And I didn’t turn around.

“I am throwing up today. And going adopted. I can’t help it. It’s nausea.” I offered him ramen for dinner if he would promise not to throw up at school today.

“I do not accept that deal.”

We got to school. He was crying a little, refusing to get out of the car, crouching down in the backseat so that no one would see him. It went on for ten minutes, and the more he cried, the more he didn’t want to get out because people would be able to tell he’d been crying.

I was starting to panic. What if he just wouldn’t get out. What if I had to take him home in disgrace. My disgrace not his, because in two and a half years of Teresa taking him to school they’ve never been late once.

He finally got out of the car and walked with me. He pulled his 49er’s knit cap all the way over his face. Then he got to the playground and off he went with his friends. I talked to Mr. Larson, who said he would keep an eye on him.

Enzo is almost always so good and no trouble. But when he hits a rough patch it feels terrible.

I broke him. The baby is bulimic. Fuck.

(Post Script: He did not throw up.)

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