Saturday night insomnia.
My brain laid heavy in my skull as I tried to think on other things other than the things that were keeping me awake.
I have been spending most evenings meditating before bed. I laid on the floor and tried to focus on my breathing, but the words in my head were just too loud, no matter how aloft my thoughts longed to be.
I headed upstairs to do my nightly routine (face wash, teeth brush, other bathroomly things), but instead of making it to my destination, I headed towards the light in my son’s room. He must have forgotten to shut it off before he passed out for the night on the living room floor.
I walked in, sat down on his bed, and stared at the wall behind his headboard.
He asked us earlier in the day if he could put some of his own “stuff” on the walls in his room. He had his share of superhero and Star Wars posters but he wanted something else. Something non manufactured, I guess. (Even after having this house for almost three years, I am still afraid to put any kind of nail hole in the walls. I have an attic full of artwork still waiting to be hung.)
Jack’s request brought Randy Pausch to mind: “When I was in high school, I decided to paint my bedroom. I always wanted a submarine and an elevator… And the great thing about this is they let me do it. And they didn’t get upset about it. And it’s still there. If you go to my parent’s house it’s still there. And anybody who is out there who is a parent, if your kids want to paint their bedroom, as a favor to me let them do it. It’ll be OK. Don’t worry about resale value on the house.”
Jack begged us not to check out “his masterpiece” before he was all done.
The mural he left behind was nothing more than stickers he found lying all over his room. Stickers from old school workbooks, birthday party sticker favors, stickers from the kitchen drawers, whatever stickery type thing he could get his hands on. There was no rhyme or reason to his design. It was rainbows and puppies and other unrelated nonsense. There were at least 100 of them laid across his wall in perfect kid formation. It was that and his own scribbled NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign. (He has since bent that rule when his friend, Emily, came over to play “let’s break some Guinness Records” with him.)
It wasn’t a remarkable presentation by any artistic standard, but it was brilliant in its own way and it was his. He didn’t care. He just wanted to take his white space and make it his own.
• • •
After school yesterday, he walked over to my computer and planted his face on my scanner. Bent over, knees on the floor, butt up in the air. He waited.
I said to him, “What on earth are you doing?”
“I want you to scan my face. It will be awesome!”
(What if the scanner burns his retinas?!)
I hesitated. Then I said, “Close your eyes.”
He knelt there motionless as the light bar moved slowly across his face. The first time he slowed down all day. He doesn’t usually stop talking or moving until exhaustion sets in, and even then he acts as if he is Rocky Balboa “giving it all he has got” until he is down for the count.
• • •
I have said it before… sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I forget that for him everything is still new. That every weird, terrifying, tacky, strange, dangerous, insert adjective here, thing/idea is new and brilliant and they believe they are the first people to have ever have thought of it. He asked me later if he could scan his butt. I said no with a chuckle. He has no idea that throughout the 1980s, people Xeroxed the HELL out of their butts in office parties around the world.
I do forget more often than I care to admit. I am tentative. I don’t indulge myself or him as often as I should. Part of our job is to keep them safe while they indulge in their whimsy. As I sat on his bed reflecting on his work, and as I watched him giggle as the scanner scanned his squishy face, I remembered that for every time I remember, too often I have forgotten to close my eyes and giggle… for myself, for him, and for them. I am thankful for the reminders.
• • •
Happy early birthday, Buddy. Eight is great.