When Leo was almost 2 and Oliver just 4 we returned home after an 8 hour car ride. “The car must be so happy to be home.” Leo exclaimed. Oliver answered him quickly. “The car is a machine, it doesnt have feelings.” And there it is. In a single exchange my two sons reveal themselves. I delight in their differences, from one another and from me.
Oliver is grounded in the here and now. When we lived on the lake and were shopping for motorboats I imagined the thrill they would feel selecting our craft. I thought of happy days on the water, picnics and tubing, the spots we would explore together. But Oliver? He pointed at our dented dinghy and said: “We have a boat, why do we want another?” There is a contendedness that courses thorugh him, that I have never seen in anyone else. Every day I try to hold in my various little irritations to allow him to continue to float through life undeflected by my moods. And I realize that is ridiculous. It is me who is effected by the moods of people around me, not Oliver. I have to keep learning this lesson. My kids ≠ me. Just as I ≠ my mother.
Leo is a rock star. We head to the soccer field and friends quite literally swarm him. Three or more girls hug him, knocking him to the ground. Yesterday we got a treat after school and he stood, flicking his long hair out of his almond eyes licking a huge rainbow lollipop. He was catching the last of the Vermont fall sun and was gazing ahead. I followed the path of his eyes to two middle school boys on skateboards. I imagined what he was imagining. Himself in the future. I wanted to freeze him right there. And then they came closer and I wondered how he would handle it and their arms outstretched and in two fluid motions first one then the other gave him a high five as they skated by.
“Who were those guys?” I asked. “My friends.” He answered.
Another lesson in staying outside of his head. I have a story. He will have his own. I am content to watch it unfold, rather than shape it. At least today.
(excerpted from a much much way too long piece. Saved this fragment.)