My son and I were sitting outside together, talking on the back deck of our home and he asked me an interesting question.
He said, “What would you do if you were put in prison for life with no chance of getting out? Would you try to escape?”
I replied, “I don’t think I would try to physically escape, I would try to be free in my mind, like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi did when they were imprisoned. But, would you visit me if I went to prison for life?”
“No, since you wouldn’t try to escape, I would come break you out of there,” he said.
I laughed at what Nathan said, and then I felt good knowing he would not want to live without me. As Nathan gets older and more independent it is harder to tell he likes me.
Instead of reaching for my hand, as he did when he was little, to hold it while we walk across a parking lot, he now, as a middle schooler tells me, “You just talked too loud and that man over there is making a face at you like you’re weird.”
If I try to hold his hand in public, he pulls his hand away.
But, he also puts himself to bed most nights and brushes his teeth without reminding. He makes his own snacks and fills his water bottle. He showers without being forced and has hobbies, like soccer, and an insatiable desire to learn all he can about fancy cars (from him, I now know enough about a Bugatti that if you are in the market for one, I’m your girl for answering questions).
Nathan has, from the time he could talk, been an adult in a child’s body. Most kids have something teachers comment on when talking to a mom about her child. Nathan’s comment from every teacher he had from the time he started school at four was, “he’s very well-spoken.”
Once, I said to the pre-K teacher, “I get that a lot – he is well-spoken.”
She said, “Yeah, but I’m thinking about asking him over for coffee.”
That summed it up well. He’s been the kind of child from the get-go that you would have over for a cup of coffee and a good conversation.
Even now, he loves to have a good talk with someone. He asks questions, like, if you went to prison for life, would you try and escape since you are going to be there forever anyway?
And now that I know he would come break me out, I can’t help but believe I would go with him, even if it was for just one day until “they” put me back in prison. His question made me meditate on how it would feel to be imprisoned and never be allowed to hold him again, or see his daily facial expressions, or be aware that I can’t tell how much he’s changed because I see him so often. When family members haven’t seen him in a while they comment on his rapid growth, but to me he looks like the Nathan I saw just yesterday, my baby boy.
Feeling this way reminds me that he will one day be grown and I might not see him daily. I won’t have him there to interrupt me, beg me for something ridiculous, like a drone with a 4-D camera or some pricey shoes that he will outgrow in a month. I won’t pick him up from school, or take him to ice cream, or soccer practice, or just lay with him and watch him breathe (when he doesn’t know, because he would tell me to stop looking at him if he knew it).
Nathan’s question was light hearted, but I know my answer deeply. Yes, Nathan, if you come break me out of prison, I’ll go with you gladly.
Today, I breathe in this time with my children. I thank you, my open heart, for the moments I sit with my son, present to his insightful questions and in tune with his love for me. I am grateful for the love of my family.