Notes from inside the hatch / by Susie Lubell

Do you watch LOST? So, if not, I'll let you in on a bit of the plot from the second season. We come to learn that there's this weird underground hatch where someone has been living the last few years (and other people for many years before that) who has to type in a particular code every 108 minutes to diffuse a growing cataclysmic energy. At one point we learn that the guy down there doesn't get to the computer in time to type the code and that's what makes the plane crash down on the island in the first place - the energy starts to explode or implode or just plode. Whatever. It's not good. The plane gets pulled to the island, breaks in half and makes a big mess. And then it happens again later in the series, to test if the whole punching in the code is really just a load of horse pucky and in fact it is not horse pucky and this magnetic force thing grows out of control and the hatch releases the cataclysmic energy again, but all the way this time, which draws in all things metal and then makes the sky go white and brassy. Anyway, great show. Many interesting facets. For me though, the whole punch in the code every 108 minutes or fear the cataclysmic force is something I can relate to on a personal level. That force lives in my home. He calls me mommy.

Thankfully our cycles are not every 108 minutes because that would be very unfortunate. But they run about every 108 hours. About every four days my son reaches a certain level of, I don't even know what to call it, energy or frustration or molecular imbalance, that requires him to release. He goes into lymbic mode. All higher brain functioning ceases. The only thing that functions is his voice box. And tear ducts. Those go into overdrive. And the part that kills me is that I can see it coming on. It's like a very slow moving train, but a train nonetheless that, even at slower speeds, can MOW YOU DOWN.

Every 4-5 days is actually amazing progress. It used to be closer to every 108 minutes. So I can tell that he's trying to become a rational person. He's learning about being flexible (this is seriously the main focus of what they learn about in his preschool, which if you ask me is nothing short of revolutionary). And he exhibits flexible behavior. But then, in due time, his magnetic energy grows so fierce that it just implodes drawing us all in a spiralling heap toward him. And I don't have any magic code which I feel is the big joke of parenting. It's like saying to someone, here, go perform open heart surgery on that man. You can reference this nice paperback.

So today he was due for a release. And it happened at the park while we were visiting our friends in a town not too far from here. We were getting ready to come home and I asked him to get on his bike and ride it back to the car which was only about a thirty second ride. He started to crumble. I said, just put on your helmet. It's much easier to ride than to walk a bike. But his legs were rubbery and he couldn't get himself going and it was cold and he was tired and probably hungry. In an attempt to diffuse what I could see was a big ole train barreling right toward me, I said to him, you can go ahead of me and get to the car first. He loves to be first. A few seconds later he says, tell me again what you just said, and of course, I have no idea what he's referring to, and he just falls apart. I try to understand how I can help him. But I have no idea what he is talking about and I know, from much experience, that whatever it is probably makes no sense to me. So I just walk ahead toward the car. And he screams for the next ten minutes for me to come back. But I can't. We've played out this same or similar scenario so many times I just can't do it anymore. Eventually my husband goes back and he quickly gets on his bike and rides to the car and through his hyperventilation explains to me that he needed me to repeat what I had said to him.

Me: But I don't know what you're talking about.
Him: I wanted you to tell me again that I can pass in front of you.
Me: Then why didn't you just tell me to say that?
Him: Because I didn't remember!
Me: Well neither did I!
Him: But you said it!
Me: But why on earth did you need me to say that again if you knew what I said anyway!?

And so, here we are, all of us, players in my son's masterpiece theater of the absurd. And ten minutes later he is back to his charming self, at first solemn and regretful, but soon after scarcely remembering the event ever happened. And I am left to dwell on this, only the most recent of what appears to be a never-ending series of cataclysms, until the next one reveals itself, in approximately 102 hours.