March 20, 2008

Don't call me Blanche DuBois

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.
______________________Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

After the police, paramedics, fire fighters, their vehicles and sniffing dog had left my house after yet another "incident," I was left to make phone calls and rearrange schedules. Over the next few days, I told friends about the boys' late-night adventures and the aftermath.

"Why didn't you phone me?" asked friend W. "I don't phone anyone at 3:30 am," I reply, "but thanks for offering."

I called friend Z to discuss new security measures for the house. Z just installed another lock in the house a few weeks ago, and he has put a number of mechanisms on various doors and windows over the years. In fact, years ago we arrived home from Russia to find that he had two cribs set up and ready for the boys. As ever, Z volunteered to immediately come over and do whatever I need.

My neighbors have been incredible, too. T has been summoned at all hours to look after one child while I take the other to the emergency room. On too many occasions, a posse of boys on bikes have scoured the neighborhood for one or both of my kids gone AWOL.

Of course, I appreciate all the help that I am offered. However, I don't like the inequality in these relationships. I don't want to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, or friends, either. I could reciprocate these kindnesses. In fact, I would like to, but I suspect no one would even ask me to bring in their newspaper if they went out of town. "She has her hands full," they say gravely.

All I can do is thank them profusely, over and over again. But if ever someone else's kid went missing in the middle of the night, I would help search. Really I would.

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