Fly Away Home
A memoir about the ups and downs in life and the back and forth travels of a multicultural family.

uNDEr A STONE

This is a preview to the chapter uNDEr A STONE from the book Fly Away Home by Maggie Myklebust.
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Ladybug, Ladybug
Fly away home
Your house is on fire
Your children have flown

All but your little one
Hiding under a stone
Fly home Ladybug
Fly away home

My mother sent me back to Norway with two pieces of motherly advice - gain some weight and tend to your youngest son. It had been months since I’d been
able to give Brian the same attention all my other children got at his age. At first I was wracked with guilt for getting sick and ignoring Brian’s needs, but as time went on I began to suspect there was more to it than that. He was good all day, and for a boy about to turn three, he was too good. He could sit at his little table and chairs and play with the same toy all day long. He was obsessed with trains, especially Thomas the Tank Engine. He’d drive the train back and forth along the edge of the table saying “Se tog”, which meant, “See train,” and, “Toddy,” which we assumed meant Thomas. Whenever Alexander or I tried to play with him, he would become annoyed and if he heard the doorbell ring, he’d drop everything, run to his room and hide.

He appeared happy as long as he was left alone but cried and whined whenever I took him out of the house. As quiet as he was during the day nighttime was a whole other story. It started when I put his pajamas on and didn’t stop before he was dressed the next morning. Bedtime was a challenge. We could look through books but were not allowed to read them, only look at the pictures. He stayed in bed only if someone lay beside him and that someone was usually Harry, since I had to get Alexander to bed as well. If we were lucky he’d sleep until midnight before starting his habitual journey back and forth between our bed and his. He would never sleep more than an hour before heading back to the other bed. Luckily Harry managed to sleep through it. I got about as much sleep as Brian, which was no more than a short nap here and there all through the night.

His eating habits also gave cause for concern, he never asked for anything and it was almost as if he was never hungry. He did eat when food was put in front of him. Anything he could pick up in his hands like a sandwich, popcorn or a hot dog, he ate himself, but if utensils were needed he had to be fed. He was a picky eater who liked to eat the same food all the time and would never try anything new. He loved ice cream sandwiches but would never eat ice cream in any other color, shape or form. The only type of candy he would eat was plain chocolate. I’m ashamed to say that worst of all he would only drink Coke or Pepsi. It started innocently enough the April before I got sick when Alexander turned four, and Brian drank Pepsi for the first time at his party. After that he started saying, “Boos,” the Norwegian word for soda is brus. I was so happy he’d learned a new word and was, for the first time, asking me for something, I gave him what he wanted. After I became ill I didn’t have the energy to break him of this bad habit, and my mother and Harry simply gave up when he refused to drink anything else.

Dinnertime meals were the worst. It didn’t matter what we were having, even food he liked had to be fed to him, and no matter how little I put in his mouth, he’d always gag and sometimes throw up. It ruined everyone’s appetite and made it impossible to invite guests over for a meal, until one day I stumbled on a solution. I had taken him for a haircut where he screamed and fought as if someone were trying to cut off his ears. When we got home he fell asleep on the sofa and slept through dinner. Later I fed him as he watched television, and he was so engrossed spoonful after spoonful went in without any squirming or gagging. From that day forward he ate all his meals and drank his soda in front of the television. I was now officially the worst mother in the world.

I had my suspicions, but they were hard to face. Was there something wrong with him? Why was he so different from my other children? Why was he so different from other people’s children? Was it me...was it my fault? After all, I was his mother, maybe I failed him. He looked normal. He was healthy. Happy for the most part. Should I take him to the doctor? What would I say? These thoughts ran through my head all day long and then spilled out every night when Harry got home.
“I know he’s different, but he’s just a little boy. He’ll probably grow out of it, but if you’re that worried take him to the doctor,” Harry would answer and I knew he was probably right.
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"Maggie Myklebust's book, Fly Away Home, reads like a fairy tale. There are no giants or pirates or six handed..."

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