His smooth skin skin rubbed against my arm and the tension of the day melted as we dove headlong into the alternate universe laid out before us on the page. I drank in his sweet smell–a unique childhood mix of the remnant of fresh outdoors and bubble bath. The quiet time I shared with him reading was my favorite part of the day; a sacred time reserved only for the two of us.
It was the fourth book of Percy Jackson that night, following a particularly difficult day. The day had been spent draining the gas tank in a circuit around half the state for a rapid succession of doctor’s appointments and therapies. Our shared time had been staccato disjointed car riding and waiting room rendezvous. I was tired and I didn’t even particularly want to read, and there were innumerable reasons why I did.
His skin reminded me of him as an infant and I longed for the days when things were simpler, and for us that was saying a lot because there was nothing simple about two children in rapid succession one of whom had a rare genetic disorder. As I read on about demigods and gods, Titans and Olympians, quests and battles, my mind wandered to my sweet, sweet boy. Was I failing him? Was I failing both my children? Was this all simply too much for him? Was it what he needed or what I thought he needed?
Damn that Sally Jackson, Percy’s mother in the book series, she gets me every time! My son, like Percy, is just a little different. Was I doing him a disservice with all this running around? Maybe he’d be better off spending all that time figuring out what works best for him in this world rather than all of it in my silver Kia chariot from here to there and in fancy sensory training gyms.
Who am I, from my limited world perspective, of living and learning in the way that I did to say what is best?
…other than his mother. There is something to be said for that.
Sally Jackson recognized this for Percy. She recognized that her life as a mortal would not allow her to understand certain things about her demigod son, and as such she made her decisions based on mother’s intuition and love.
She held strong and she yielded.
We all desire our children to be like us, save for our faults, be better than us, have more than us, and to succeed. A dream for the future was knitted like a shawl to shroud the baby in before he was ever born. When born he was swaddled in his shawl of dreams and cared for by those who dreamed them. Some dream shawls are translucent covers one can see through; those cover the child for all to see both the child and the dream as he grows. Yet, others are thick opaque armor that obscure the view of the actual child and stunt his growth.
I believe I bestowed my son a translucent dream shawl, yet it is often hard to be objective in the case of your own child. Even the very time we spent reading together was an adaptation from the dream cloth I wove.
Our house is filled with books; there are bookcases in all the rooms save the kitchen and bathrooms. Our house is this way because it is what I value. The world of words is scaffold for which I hold up and make sense of my universe; for my bright boy, written text is a formidable landscape with no easy access. This used to panic me, frankly, it often still does. It pained me to the depths of my soul that written word was laborious and basically inaccessible. I used to spend the time during the evening having him work ever so diligently on reading to me, as strenuous as that could be for him; because, in the end my desire was for him to become a reader. Until I shifted, and ensured access to the difficult textual terrain by serving as Sherpa and read aloud or played audiobooks.
He and I now share a special connection because I granted him access to text and fostered a love of reading. I held strong and I yielded. Because, my dreams for him are finely woven, intricate, and the strongest uniting thread is a desire for him to be valued, loved, seen, unburdened, and free to become whoever he is meant to be.
During our shared time, I bring my boy into the land of literature and we take grand journeys together; in return he has granted me access into the most magical and deep thinking recesses of his universe. That is the most gracious gift anyone can be given–access into one’s inner landscape. If I did not yield I would not have been granted such a gift.
This leads me to wonder on what other areas I should yield. Perhaps I should take a page out of Sally Jackson’s book, ask my son, and judiciously follow his lead.