Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dinosaurs Eating, Vivid Motion, and Other Worlds

My son stood up on his child-sized chair, where he could reach the chalk and draw on the bottom of the chalkboard hanging on the dining room wall. It's high on the wall because the lower half of the room is covered in wainscoting, unsuitable for hanging much of anything, let alone an oversized and very heavy, wood-framed chalkboard.

And then, because it's high, we've adopted it for ourselves: we make grocery lists, jot down appointments, and detail our lunch and dinner menus for the week. The adults have bogarted the big blackboard, and the children must make do with the much smaller chalkboard aback the white board easel that I got for free when my former employer tossed it in the junk pile.

But the boy managed to balance his feet where his seat should be, and draw on the bottom of the blackboard, and then he said: Mommy, look at my chalking!

I forgot all about how you're supposed to ask about the picture instead of telling about it, and I said: Hey! Y'know what that reminds me of?

And he said: what? And so I told him.

It reminds me of a dinosaur, like, his head is right here? And this is his tongue! And he's eating this ... ball of stuff, over here. It reminds me of a dinosaur who's eating.

And he didn't have any particular objection to that interpretation, in fact, he welcomed it, and so it became a dinosaur, eating a ball of stuff.

Over the course of a week or so he added more stuff to the dinosaur's ball-o'-food. He filled in the dinosaur's head. He called my attention to it each time, and each time I validated his efforts to increase the concrete-ness of the dinosaur, dining in our dining room.

And then, one Friday night, his father -who hadn't been privy to the ongoing conversations about said dinosaur and his insatiable appetite for round-or-sometimes-oval balls-o'-stuff- erased the bottom of board.

In Daddy's defense, we had an especially long grocery list that week. We'd been out of town the weekend before, living on leftovers, and a large number of household staples were depleted.

Once all of us realized what had taken place, my son said: Mommy, can you help me make my dinosaur again?

And I said: No! We can never make the same dinosaur again. We wouldn't be able to do it right. You can't recreate the past. But you know what this is perfect for? I can wash the board with a wet paper towel, and you can start a brand new picture, and the colors will be so vivid! It can be anything you want! And I can't wait to see it!

And he grinned and agreed. And he started anew, and at the end I said (forgetting again): Y'know what THIS reminds me of? People running. It reminds me of motion. The purple and the yellow, and the orange and the blue? Look like they are racing across the chalkboard like Thomas and James race to the Wharf!

And he didn't have any particular objection to that interpretation, but he did enjoy the word vivid. And so we talked about that for a while.

As parents, we define dinosaurs, motion, and vivid. We can make or break the meaning of things. We're creating and defining worlds here. This is powerful, important stuff. This is exciting, my little boy's favorite word. More exciting than Thomas and James racing; more exciting than what a dinosaur eats for lunch.

We can create worlds, erase them. We can start anew. Where else do we get the chance to do this?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this unexpected piece of hope; it's lovely.