Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lame No More

No, I have not healed the lame - yet. This is about my son, who in Kindergarten, when I first read Here You Are to him, through himself backwards onto his bed, laughing. I took that as a clear sign that Here You Are had magic. I have read many children's books to my children for over twenty-eight years and this had never happened. The following week, when I read it to his Kindergarten class, one of the boys quietly got up, came over to me and gave me a long, silent hug. It felt like a Thank You hug. He was the only African American boy in an all white classroom, which has to be a bit of a drag at times.
Well, as my little Kindergartener learned how to read more and more, chapter books no less, Here You Are was not a book we read. It just became the "thing" that kept Mom so busy, spending hours on the computer and in the art studio. The day came, two years after Kindergarten, when I faxed the printing contract to China with half of my saved money. With the fax machine still humming, my son announced: "Mom, to tell you the truth, Here You Are is not a real story. Maybe OK for Kindergarteners, but I really don't think you should publish it. It's kinda lame. Sorry to tell you the truth, Mom."
Too late - I figured God just was trying to keep me humble. I laughed out loud, but my heart sank with visions of beautiful shiny copies rotting in storage.
Yesterday he was really, really sad. He had gotten sick on his last day of second grade and had missed field-day, the First graders singing "Fare Well", the graduation ceremony, his teacher reading Here You Are to his class, and exchanging Good Bye-s with his teacher and friends. He had to get picked up mid-day because of a stomach-ache. It was the sadness we feel when there is something that can never be re-enacted, something missed forever. His little face broke my heart.
"Can you read Here You Are to me, Mom? It will make me feel better and calm me down." I couldn't believe my ears. We ended up playing "well actually". "Here you are, standing on the ground...well actually, lying in your bed! Here you are, under the big, blue sky...well actually, under the big, wooden ceiling! Here you are, amongst the trees, the flowers and the butterflies...well actually, amongst the pillows and the sheets." He creatively added anything funny he could think of until the final pages where it all got calm, and then the little pay-off in the end. "How come Here You Are always makes you happy in the end, Mom?"

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