Monday, April 29, 2013

“You know, it's quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness." (Sartre)

There are many layers to Andrew, but he doles out parts of himself only in certain moments.  Darkness.  Quiet.  When there’s just him and another person.  The sound effects, the sword fighting, the running circles in the backyard all go away – and there’s this teeny-tiny, philosophical, deep-thinking soul in its place.  You see his kindness and his twinkling eyes during the day, sense there’s something below the surface, but there’s a different version of Andrew when I tuck him into bed.  Lying there with him, his ideas and wonderings seep out of him.  I turn off the lights, wrap his comforter around him, put my arm under his head – and just wait for him to emerge.
Sometimes I feel the guilt – should I have stopped him during the day, sat down with him to let him philosophically probe?  Or maybe this is his rhythm?  I’m still not sure.

I want to bottle up those dark and quiet moments forever.   I can’t begin to describe how much they mean to me.  That I’ve created this little human being with such wonderful questions, such marvelous insights.   
Last night:

Andrew (6): “Why do bad guys and good guys always look cute right before they die?” 
Me: “Cute?  What do you mean by that, sweetie?”

He showed me the panicky face, like he was scared he might die, and then said: “They never look like bad guys when they know they’re about to die."
My brain went cold when I realized the wisdom of what he was saying. “Andrew, I know exactly what you’re saying.  And ‘cute’ is a great word for it.  Adults might call it ‘vulnerable.’  When someone is really, really scared, they become their true self.  The deepest, truest part of themselves.”

“And that part isn’t bad-guy?  I always like them right before they die.  I don’t like that they’re going to die.  But everyone seems like a good person.”
I know (I know, I know) that I’m not supposed to fast-forward through any of this.  But even as I stroke the hair of this painfully adorable small boy, I am overwhelmed with wanting to see his grown-man version.  I want to introduce  him to the Great Philosophers.  People who’ve asked questions like he asks…agree or disagree…right or wrong…I think he will love it.  Hegel, Socrates, Kierkegaard, Freud, all of them.  Give him Sartre’s Nausea, and then take him out to coffee and hear his thoughts on it.  Hand him a fresh version of Emerson’s Self-Reliance, without all my notes and highlights… because I want to see what he finds in it. 

I have no interest in training his brain to believe what I believe.  I’ll tell him my thoughts – radical honesty is our most important family tenet – but I don’t want to direct his mind.  I want him to create his own intellect, form his own questions.  And for him to know that I’m always there to help him sort through them.
Some of that is an unconditional love for him.  I just love HIM, whatever that means, whatever he believes.  But some of that is a selfish love too, because this collaboration of differences is my favorite part of parenting.  Watching them find their own essence and their own independence of mind is enthralling to me.   Hearing his questions – seeing his mind – is so much better than anything I could dictate to him.



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