We Interrupt This Broadcast

We visited my mother last weekend. Ian slept in my past bed and room, the walls still painted in depressing shades of black and gray. I was a melancholy young man.

My bedroom also now has my mother’s computer, and a television with satellite. We can’t even receive PBS at our house, so cable is a treat for vacations and hotel rooms, and YaYa’s house. On Saturday night, I let Ian watch a bit of Cartoon Network before going to sleep. I found the channel, set the television timer for fifteen minutes, and went downstairs.

Fifteen minutes later we heard the rapid thumping of feet above our heads, and assumed Ian had to use the bathroom, or wanted a drink of water.

I made my way to bed at ten o’clock, nearly two hours later. As I turned toward the bathroom I realized I was hearing high-pitched voices and tinny music. There was a harsh light flickering from under Ian’s door.

I turned the doorknob, and found Ian sprawled across the bed, one arm dangling over the side and his face pressed against the mattress. The light of the television threw shadows from the footboard across the wall.

Ian bolted upright, his mouth slack and pupils dilated to silver dollars. He tried to blink, a Tin Man asking for oil. Parenting is a game of stifled laughter.

‘Ian?’ Blink. ‘Did you turn on the TV?’ Bl…ink. ‘Yes?’ Nod. ‘It’s really time for bed, kiddo.’

‘Okay.’ He crashed to the mattress, and was out before the TV.

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