Happy birthday, son. Can you be seven years old already?
As I write this, I’m sitting outside your bedroom, peering in from time to time and issuing reminders that you should be in your bed and quiet - NOW. It’s been a big day, and you’re currently too tired to sleep. It’s one of your many conundrums: you easily get too tired to sleep, too hungry to eat, or too lonely to smile.
I’ve learned from you that logic isn’t always the deciding factor in children’s choices. I no longer depend on the fallout from your decisions to teach you. You learn by different pathways.
And oh, what pathways they are.
Sometimes you seem just hopelessly distant, unconnected from the world around you. You almost never know where your shoes are. Favorite toys are left outside to get ruined in the rain. Money slips through your fingers at an alarming rate. And then you’ll say something to me, some offhand remark, and amaze me again with your keen observations. Just a moment ago, you sat up in bed and asked me,
”Mama, why do cats rub up against things with the sides of their faces?” You nosed your headboard in a perfect imitation of Claire, “Like that.” I’m looking it up now, because I really don’t know why. I’d never really noticed. It turns out there are scent glands there, in their jowls. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, but tonight I whispered,
”Shhhhh. Quiet, honey. Go to sleep.”
It’s just so you – the mundane facts of the day wash over you, unnoticed, while tiny jewels of information are snagged in your hands, gripped tightly and turned over and over in your wondering gaze.
You are different than your brothers, and sometimes I fear that my bewildered confusion looks to you like disapproval. I hope you know that I think you’re perfect. You’re such a different shape of perfect that I don’t always know what to do with you. I’m trying to grow up to be the mother you need. I wish I was more sure of myself, more capable and effective as your parent. I’m trying. But I hope you know that I know – you’re perfect.
The other day we were talking about dragonflies. They’re my favorite insect, with their jeweled colors, their translucent wings.
“And they’re not only beautiful,” I said, “but you see them on the very best days. Like when we went strawberry picking, or when we ride our bikes to the dog park.” You listened to me with that look you get, the faintly unfocused set of your eyes that tells me you’re not seeing what’s before you. You were viewing a movie in your head of a dragonfly. You nodded slowly.
”Yeah…and what I like is how they fly. They don’t fly like most things, just bzzzzzzz,” you demonstrated the ordinary flight pattern with your hand. It flew a path in front of your eyes, dipping slightly. “Dragonflies go ZIP,” your hand flew from left to right, then stopped and hung there, “and then they stop and just…HOVER, then they ZIP away. You never know where a dragonfly will go.”
I nodded in agreement, and touched my nose to the bristle of the hair that swirls in a cowlick on the crown of your head.
You are MY dragonfly, sweet son, and I can’t wait to see where you will go.