April 23, 2009
Young Hearts, Young Love
Tonight my son was crying over a baby bird. At baseball practice a boy had found a baby bird that was sick or lost or whatever happens to baby birds who are not with their moms. The boy pitched the bird over the fence to get it off the field.
Apparently, my son came unhinged and started crying right there. (Suddenly, I have this image of Tom Hanks bellowing, "THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!")
And then came bedtime. He was in bed for 15-20 minutes and out he comes crying again. "I can't sleep," he says. "Every time I close my eyes and start to sleep I think about the baby bird and I dream about it. I want to go find it and make sure it's okay." It's cold and pitch black outside. There's no way to find a baby bird no matter what our inclination. He is his mother's child and wants to make things right in the world.
His father sends him to bed and I follow to find him huddled under the covers. He pokes his head out to see who has come to his bedside. "It's me," I say. "I've come to lie down with you for a minute. I know you're having a hard time."
He bursts into tears. "Do you want to know why I'm having a hard time?"
"Yes," I say as I lie down beside him, wrap my arms around him.
He tells me the story about the boy and the bird. He sobs it out in bursts and spasms, weeping deeply for the bird who is gone from his mother. I listen and wonder if his tears come from a deeper place, a small corner hidden away, a past we haven't talked about in depth, the one that holds the tale of a baby taken from one mother and given to another. I try not to let my mind go there, to hold firmly to the image of the baby bird because I want the tale to just be a simple story about a lost bird in a field.
We talk at length about nature and survival of the fittest and how life for animals is not the same as life for humans. It's not making him feel any better. I decide I'm not good at this and take the easy way out. "Think about something else," I offer as my lame solution.
"I can't, I can't stop thinking about it," he wails.
"Think about something really interesting. Like... I don't know, maybe climbing a mountain with your brother. And you're closer to the top than he is and he hangs on for dear life and instead of grabbing the mountain he grabs the back of your pants and your pants nearly come off and we can all see the top of your booty crack and your brother starts yelling, 'BOOTY!'"
This sordid vignette had the desired effect which was to send him from despair to glee. He laughed and laughed and we expounded for a few moments on how horrible and tragic it would be to have to mountain climb with his brother because of various booty crack incidents.
And, of course, booty crack conversations just naturally evolve into conversations about girls. I explained that any girl on this tragic mountain climbing trip would certainly never be allowed to see him again. They would be forbidden by their mothers, instantly.
He said he had to tell me something bad. My heart lurched. "Sure, tell me something bad, I'm ready."
"You know I like Sadie."
"But she doesn't like me."
I told him how crazy that was because he's the most awesome boy ever, so handsome and with the coolest freckles ever. "Not everyone gets to have freckles you know. They are cool. You know what my mom called freckles when I was a kid?"
"Kisses from the sun!"
His eyes got wide and he smiled. "Is that true????"
"Of course it's true. The sun comes down from the sky and goes MWA MWA MWA and everywhere it kisses your face is a little brown spot, a kiss from the sun." (The part I left out was that my mom told me this because kids at school would make fun of me and she was trying to make me feel better.)
"You know what this MEANS???"
"This means I'll be TAN!"
I laughed. "Well, I suppose if you get enough freckles and they smoosh together, yeah."
"Okay, you want to hear something else bad?"
"Yes, tell me."
"I really like TWO girls. I like Haven and I like Sadie."
"Hmm. Really? Does Haven like you?"
"I think so. Dad says sometimes when a girl messes with you it means she likes you." (My first thought was oh please don't take relationship advice from your dad.)
"How does she mess with you?"
"I don't know." He seems a little embarrassed suddenly. We lie there for a minute. He smiles. "Well, I tell you who really DOES like me."
"Really? How do you know?" I try not to look too eager because I don't want him to get embarrassed and stop talking.
"Well, the other day I was trying to help her pick up her crayons and she slammed my head into the table. That's how I know she likes me."
As we lay there in the dark for a few more minutes I thought, wow... he is SO like his dad.
[photo credit: amypalko]