At school, the days are spiraling down. We make space mud and go outside for extra recess where I sit on the grass and they crowd around me, suddenly towering tall, every single one yelling for my attention. â€œTeacher! Teacher! Look at this!â€ â€œTeacher can we race?â€ â€œTeacher! Watch me!â€ I close my eyes and feel the sun on my eyelids and my pulse in my chest. The backs of my eyelids are sunbursts of red and shade. The world is simpler this way, eyes closed. Immediately I turn inward, feel my breath, remember to breathe. Eventually they stop yelling. One persistent voice keeps at it, softer now, â€œTeacher, teacher!â€
Above us there is a sun dog in the sky. I tell them the weather will change. I tell them rain is coming, and later it does.
At home the road is slick with mud. The chickens come out from the coop and ruffle their feathers. The sky is the color of paper. Lilacs lean towards the ground, heavy with rain. Bean wakes up from his late nap grouchy, and grouchy by three year old standards seems to mean nonstop howling in indignation for a half an hour. No he doesnâ€™t want a snack, or a snuggle, or a walk, or some milk. But then two seconds later heâ€™ll maybe change his mind.
When heâ€™s asleep, he looks little to me still. I see in his face the tiny babyâ€™s face I stared at for hours, when he still made dolphin noises and his whole body could rest snuggly against my torso. But then he awakens and the turbulence childhood is there like a weather map, hovering. He looks boyish, lanky, bright-eyed, determined.
When he was two, I could distract him. â€œLook at the moon!â€ Iâ€™d say eagerly, or â€œLetâ€™s go get some mango for snack,â€ and any consternation would melt like a popsicle on a warm day. â€œOkay,â€ heâ€™d nod agreeably, smudging tears with the back of his hand. But three? Three is entirely different. He holds on to things. Dwells on them. And his emotions sweep over him like waves.
I remember going to the beach when I was a kid, growing up in Los Angeles. The sand was often oil specked, and the waves hit hard. If you turned your back when you were building sand castles, youâ€™d get smacked down, spun under, your t-shirt or bathing suit twisted and wrung out. Beanâ€™s moods hit him like that now. Everything is full throttle. Urgent delight. Intense frustration. Utter grief.
On walks Iâ€™ve started sharing my big Cannon EOS 20-D with him. Itâ€™s probably not advisable. Iâ€™m likely courting disaster, a broken lens, worse. But he has an eye for framing the most beautiful shots. He takes the camera so earnestly, the strap slung over his shoulder. And I love the way his pictures areâ€”kid level, slightly askew.
It is hard to resist the urge to tell him how to do things. â€œTake a picture of this, point the lens this way, no thatâ€™s too dark,â€ and just see what he comes up with. But I realize right away that Iâ€™m pushing the river when I do. The kidâ€™s got his own eye.
On a different note: Iâ€™m on the brink of something. Tilting. Canâ€™t say yet what, but things are afoot. Possibly. Maybe. Good things. Keep your fingers crossed for me.