P is for Pop


make a light explosive sound.
go somewhere, typically for a short time and often without notice.
a light explosive sound.
a patch of bright color
with a light explosive sound.

In 2006 The boy was turning 8 years old. I have always liked the road trip to Maine, it seems to get more deeply green as you go further North. When you enter Maine the welcome sign declares that you have gotten to the place where life is as it should be.


The boy has always been into science and all of his gifts tended to reflect that passion. Over the years, he had received dinosaur skeletons to assemble and clear engines to build and run, owl pellets to break apart and examine. I have always tried to get him neat gifts along that line. It’s a weird thing to be someones’ birth mother, there just isn’t any road-map for your place. It was still awkward, I think mostly because I am awkward. The Maine crew is nothing but friendly and welcoming and it was a slow stilted path towards integrating me into that fold. I am much more prickly, but I gave neat gifts as a bizarre apology for my weirdness.

This year I got him a science kit that included a water bottle rocket. This was a quick attention grabber and caused an immediate plan to set-up at the parking lot by their house, a small neighborhood gang appeared out of ether to accompany us.


We set-up, and he started pumping, and just as maximum pressure was reached, he turned the spout and got me, full force, soaked! After two more attempts and two more soakings I threatened to drown him if he tried it one more time.

Guess what? 8 year olds don’t take threats to seriously, but I always do. POP! He got me one more time and I grabbed him in a headlock. I doused him with all available water while laughter and screeching commenced. There was threats and running and more laughter.

It was the first time I touched him without thinking. I don’t know if people think about touch as much as I have, about its importance and connection to love and intimacy, but it was an ever-present thought for me most of the time. In trying desperately to respect boundaries, to make them for myself, to protect myself and him and this wonderful family, it was all tangled up into unbreakable knots for me.

Yet, this time, I didn’t think. I laughed and it was joyful. To this day our relationship can be marked by this friendly fighting, of instigation and attack.  I don’t know what that means and I don’t feel much need to poke it, somehow it has worked to build a fragile bridge that has slowly gotten stronger, and that is also, joyful.

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