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Atlas & Alice | Issue 2 Winter 2014

The Young Mother Sings Loudly In the Kindermusik class the teacher is always smiling. The young mother feels guilty seeing anyone with more energy around her kid than she has. Even her husband when he first comes home, sweeping Clint up and crowing falsetto – can’t everyone just calm down? She didn’t know having a kid meant feeling bad about not being happy all the time. The room is blue with drawings of animals on swings and a wobbly earth and the top eighth of a sun rising from the door with absurdly long rays, yellow, gold, and orange. It’s the kids the sun represents. Parents rush in. She likes the frazzled ones, the moms complaining about birthday party expenses and boxes of outgrown diapers, the dads struggling to hold their two-year-olds still then releasing them like cannons. She doesn’t like the curly-haired mom who smiles wider than the teacher, with head bobs and loud cheers when her curly-haired daughter claps her hands or rattles a stick with beads inside. The young mother imagines this woman all the time glowing, walking everywhere fast, sweeping dishes and toys into wide arms, though probably dishes and toys don’t get put away very neatly. The young mother watches this woman from her side of the room, conserving energy. “Okay, friends,” the instructor says, cross-legged on the purple-tape circle. Some parents wrangle their kids; some don’t bother. Clint sits sweetly on the young mother’s lap, curling his index finger around the end of hers, watching the wild ones. They sing a Hello song. Kids squirm. Parents sing, pat kids’ arms and legs, teaching their limbs rhythm, though the young mother doubts much is retained. When Clint dances at home some mornings it’s this head-jerk thing with belly-dancer arms. “I like that move,” she tells Clint and imitates him. They buzz around the room. She admits to herself these are happy times, though of course tells no one about them. What could she say? While you were an adult all day I pretended I was a bee? The woman with twins comes in late and sits by the young mother. “My third and fourth boys,” she told the young mother her first day, shaking her head assuming the young mother – everyone – felt sorry for her. Doesn’t everyone really, secretly, want girls? “It’s the cars that kill me. I ask them, what about these nice cows over here? They want to play. So the cows get rides in cars. Or run over.” Every time she holds a squirming boy on each leg with her arms across their chests until they start howling. When she releases her arms they tumble toward the room’s center, bounding into kids and wooden instruments. Other than the curly-haired woman, the parents look slightly pained to be here. Some set smart phones beside them and peck while they sing. Others stare tiredly into corners or survey the children, smiling if an unruly child treats another child kindly by passing a triangle or xylophone instead of clinging to it and screaming. The young mother isn’t sure why these people come to Kindermusik, isn’t sure why she comes exactly, except that though she dreads it she is satisfied when it’s over. It’s good to expose Clint to other children, to show him people aren’t as scary as they seem to be. 55

Profile for Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine

Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine  

Issue 2 | Winter 2014

Atlas and Alice Literary Magazine  

Issue 2 | Winter 2014

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