Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The Sweetest Words
My son is at the wonderful age of eight. When I was eight, I found Jesus and John Boy Walton, (in that order) and decided I would be the world’s greatest roller skater. On Christmas Day, during my eighth year of life, my mother gave me a diary. It was then that I began writing and playing with words.
Noah is eight, but he is his only little person, with his only little dreams and personality and aspirations. Since I stopped teaching a couple of years ago, I made a rule that I was not going to be a volunteer for Noah’s school. Nineteen years in an educational facility is enough. But I was asked to help out this year on the Wagon Wheel Press, a little newspaper that Noah’s elementary school puts out four times a year. I asked Noah if he would want to work on the paper and he enthusiastically said yes. So I caved and told them I would help. At the first meeting the kids were asked to sign up for the job they wanted: Layout, Cartoons, Editor, Writing, Photography, etc. I watched Noah. This was to be a moment I wanted to remember. My son officially signing up to be a writer. But his little sneakers took him to another spot.
“I signed up to be a photo – grapher, Mom.” (That’s how he pronounced it.)
“Great. You’ll be wonderful.”
I put on the actress make up and hid my disappointment. He knew that I would be working with the writers. He knew that I love it when he writes anything. But he is his own little guy and he loves, absolutely loves taking pictures. Gamma Joani and Grandpa Mark gave him his own little camera right before we left California. He has made great use of it here in Colorado.
So I dealt with the blow and chalked it up to one of the many, many times in my life that Noah will choose to go his own way and not his Mommy’s. That’s good, I guess. I want to raise an independent warrior, not a Mama’s boy wimp.
I think I do.
Lately when I ask Noah questions (sometimes it sounds like grilling) my son answers “I don’t know” to most of my inquiries. I have begun telling him that he is too smart for “I don’t know.” But at the same time I try not to put so much pressure on him to answer everything.
My mom, Sally Ann Floyd, was a master at getting information out of the four of her children. We all agree that she was wily and cunning. We let her in on all sorts of secrets when we didn’t even know we were talking.
I want to be like that. But I am more of an in-your-face-tell-me-now mom. I need to work on wily.
Yesterday Noah was not in school because of fall break. I love it when he is home and we don’t have anything planned. The two of us are lazy cats, moving from one thing to the next, just taking it easy. He played legos while I wrote and I cleaned the kitchen while he stepped outside to have imaginary wars in the sun. Then we both found ourselves curled up in Dad’s chair with a blanket and Scooby watching “Little House on the Prairie.”
As we sat there, watching the show but not really wrapped up in it, we started chatting. No big deal talk. He told me about the differences between Transformer Decepticons and Autobahns and I explained to him why Laura was older and a teacher in the episode we were watching.
Somewhere in the comfort of family and love and a puggle on our laps, Noah opened up his little eight-year-old heart to me. He told me stuff about his school that I didn’t know and he told me about how he felt about a couple of things. I want to put down word for word what he said because it was so precious. But I won’t, for the exact same reason. And Noah wouldn’t want me to reveal our lazy cat conversation. Those words are locked in my heart. I wasn’t really wily, either. I just listened and cuddled up. Maybe that was Mom’s secret, too.
After a while, we decided to go to the library and hang out. I love teaching him the pure joy of public libraries. He is getting it, too. We spend time in the children’s fiction and then move to the videos and finish our time downstairs on the computers. As we were leaving, I showed him a flyer I am working on, advertising a reading that I am doing at a local tearoom.
“What do you think of this, Noah? Do you like the colors?”
He paused, obviously in thought.
“Mom, you’re a famous writer, aren’t you?”
I giggled. “No, Noah, I am not famous at all.”
“Well, I think you are a great writer, Mom.”
The wind shifted and I became Mary Poppins, floating up into the sky. My heart filled up and I looked over at my boy.
“Thank you, Noah.”
I may never be famous or even have a book of my own published. I have goals and dreams, of course, and it would be lovely to have some of them come true. But no words I ever scribble, published or not, will ever mean more than those my eight-year-old boy gave me walking down the library steps.