David on Monday, at the kitchen table late at night, thinking. Gail comes downstairs with advice: go to bed, you need your rest. With perspective, reminder, accusation: I barely slept last night not knowing if I’d see you or the kids again. And, finally, with motherly optimism or motherly delusion.
“Oh, that’s not true,” she says after David speaks aloud a truth he doesn’t want to know. Max would rather be with Callum. But it is true, at least at this moment in his life, and her reassurances cannot jolly David out of looking that reality right in the face.
It’s Callum who Max calls ‘Dad’. He calls David ‘David’. There are reasons, ones that don’t mean he loves Callum more or that he truly has a deeper bond with Callum than with David. But those reasons, even if Gail had or could articulate them to David, wouldn’t mean anything to him right then.
What does strike him, with sad force, is that when Max was lost, it was Callum he phoned. He didn’t call David even though he knew for sure David was nearby.
David’s sadness fills the room, as does his air of resoluteness in facing facts. He had gone over the events of the day and looked straight at what it showed about Max’s choices. Gail’s offering of “that’s not true” seemed paltry, delusional, avoiding what is real, seeing the fiction you want to see.
Replaying the scene in my mind, though, I wondered if maybe Gail’s perspective, delusional though it may be, is maybe what is needed. Short-term delusions in order to keep long-term bonds.
A good boy
In spite of every destructive act of David’s, including to her, Gail persisted in seeing him as ‘a good boy, troubled, but he’ll be all right.’ And you know what? She was right.
What David did is good, I think, seeing events and motivations as they are instead of how he wants them to be. The logical outcome would be giving Max to Callum. Is that best? Maybe David should borrow Gail’s maternal blinders. Maybe he needs to stuff his encounter with reality in his pocket for a while and see only the Max he wants to see, the Max who is his son for better or worse.