It was my big fear. That my twin two-year old grandsons visiting from California would immediately head to the space under our baby grand piano and the piano, sensing that there was life beneath it, would become feeble and weak, and that one or both of the twins would nudge one of the piano legs which, up until now, have looked so sturdy and all the legs would fling themselves outward, crushing my grandsons in a pile of black and white keys and tangled piano strings.
Their mother would be furious at me.
I tried to articulate this to my daughter but without all the florid details. I’m worried that the piano will crush them, I told her. She looked at me as as if thinking she was right to have come cross country to do a mental health check-up on her mother.
Right, Mom, she thought. She didn’t say anything. She often refuses to dignify what she considers to be inane remarks with a response. Sometimes it makes for very one-sided conversations between the two of us, especially if I feel compelled to give voice to the disaster cavalcade rippling in my head.
We were standing in the kitchen when this non-exchange happened. It made me feel better that she didn’t buy in to the piano peril, you know, how when you’re about to do something extremely scary and the person you’re with tells you it’s not that scary and for a minute you are relieved and then you rethink the situation and know you were right to think the worst.
“Wouldn’t that mean that all three legs would have to give out at the same time?”
She tried not to make it sound preposterous.
Before we could get deeper into the risk assessment, me feeling at least like my fears had been acknowledged, like I had been ‘heard’ as they say in the world of therapy and helping, one grandson toddled by holding the red handle of a steak knife in his little sweet hand.
The other one headed for the cabinet beneath the sink. We’d forgotten the little combination locks you’re supposed to have if you have babies running around. I tried to remember where we put the rope. We have no rope. Who has rope?
I didn’t say any of this to her. I didn’t tell her that I was thinking about rope when I disarmed her beautiful son of his red knife. I pretended I had righted myself from the piano collapse scenario and was now fully cognizant and competent.
He may have found a sharp knife, I thought, determined to gather my frayed self, but it’s a one time occurrence. I’m completely on top of everything now. Watch me, Mama.
After that first night of hypothetical terror, things settled down. I learned that one boy would stick around for a while but the other one would hike down the street without waving goodbye. I learned it’s possible to turn a toddler from doing one thing to doing another without saying no and doing a sweeping removal. I learned that a little patience and a few alternatives go a long way. I learned that food needs to be cut up into smaller pieces than I thought and remembered that babies will go to sleep when it’s bedtime if that’s what you expect them to do. I learned to attend to what’s most important, to ‘keep them alive and accounted for’ as my daughter instructs. Don’t worry about the rest. Keep them alive and accounted for.
I can do that. I did do that. And all on my own, too. So there.
I’m not afraid of no piano.