Here Comes the Roar

When I was a kid, I sat under the pear tree in our front yard and pretended to be Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little House on the Prairie. I loved those books; I read every one. I still remember how Laura’s dad tapped a tree for molasses and that they once lived in a hollowed out hillside with a dirt floor. To an eight-year-old girl in suburbia, that was downright magical. Growing up, somewhere along the way, I lost that feeling, that magic. I didn’t even realize it was gone.

Dane’s grown enough to start shedding his baby-ness, although thankfully it’s happening gradually, like shadows from the trees in the morning. He’s still our wee guy, but he’s big enough to start leading expeditions outside our circle. He tromps to the neighbor’s yard and calls “DA DOG! DA DOG!” or tries to cross the street on his own, to wave to the bus or study the fire hydrant. He chooses his toys, his books, what he wants to eat. He reaches up for my hand without bothering to check if it’s there, so certain is he in the absoluteness of his world. It makes my heart stop, that certainty, his opinions, and the somehow grown-upchildness of it. It’s his magic. He’s starting to make his own.

I can’t remember when I lost my magic. I do remember being terrified of monsters at night, and then realizing, sometime between early childhood and puberty (and definitely sometime after watching Nightmare on Elm Street Parts 1 to 13), that if magic were really real I could imagine a protective sphere around my bed that would keep out all those monsters. After all, if monsters existed, why couldn’t my own magic sphere of awesomeness? And even though the idea itself was an excellent use of childhood magic (if I do say so myself), it was also treading the borderland between childhood and adult logic. From that point on, it became less awesome to drop a little fairy dust onto my feet and leap around the bed as a flying monkey, and more interesting to follow our neighbor boy home from school.

Sometimes, when I watch Dane, when I’m really, really lucky, I get that old lightning bug in a jar magic kind of feeling. That’s one of the side benefits of having kids, I guess. All the possibilities of childhood come roaring back. It’s the glint in his eye or the way sunlight catches his hair and sparkles, and it makes me squint and tilt my head until I can almost see through him. He’s a mirage, that baby, and in him I see the place I miss so much and didn’t even know was gone. The place where anything can happen.

It’s too simple to say that I feel lucky to have even a second of that back now. Our emotions as parents are so complex that there really aren’t words to express them; trying to do so is like throwing a pebble off a waterfall. The only word I can think of that begins to touch how I feel is believe. He makes me believe again. And that’s worth more than all the words I know and most of the ones I don’t.

-s

p.s. I borrowed the title of this post from an excellent book of short stories by my old friend and teacher Dave Shaw. Show him a little love, y’all.

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44 thoughts on “Here Comes the Roar

    • Right? And it’s just the right time of year for that, too, with the weather getting warmer and all… let’s all head out and catch some this week! Thanks!

  1. One minute I miss my tiny baby and my toddler and my kindergartener but then again…I have loved every single stage of his life – even know at 12-1/2 when he’s a little shit for a few minutes every day, and I look forward to each additional ‘stage’ he goes through.

    Great post.

  2. I like the image of throwing the pebble over the waterfall. That really is a good analogy for this uniquely parent feeling. The farther I get from babies, the more I appreciate what was. I want to tell every harried young mother I meet to cherish these moments. Nicely done, Erin

  3. Two things… “like shadows from the trees in the morning” is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read this week at yeahwrite. And I’m not sure if you’re a Faith Hill fan but she has a song about the lighting bugs in a jar feeling })i({

    • That’s the best compliment I’ve received all week – thank you!! and while my musical taste is more tim than faith, i’m off to look up the song you’re talking about, because that is one of my very favorite feelings of them all!

  4. I love it how, with kids, you’re always saying ‘This is the BEST AGE!’ ‘No wait, THIS is the best age!’ ‘Seriously, this really is the best age.’ They’re all magic.

    • Right? Sometimes I’m so busy trying to figure out what the next stage is going to be I forget to enjoy the one we’re in, but you’re right – they are all magic. Well said!

  5. oh man do i love this. soooo beautiful and spot on. i believe, too. it’s why i adore just watching her do her thing. i adore seeing her reaction to things, the wonder in her eyes, the joy on her face. it’s SUCH an amazing gift- being a mom.

    • Thanks! I love the word joy – it so aptly describes our day to day life. Even when things are hard (and based on the high content of snark on this blog, one might think things are hard indeed), the troubles around here are negligible compared to the joy being a mom brings! glad you feel it too!

  6. This made me sigh in that good way – of longing and contentedness. Believe has been my word lately. When I’m unsure and doubting ‘believe’ carries me. And, you’re right, kids have that way of bringing magic to our lives.
    Lovely post.

  7. What a beautiful, beautiful post.
    So hard to accept how when we “grow up” we pretty much lose that “lightning bug in a jar” feeling. But we get glimpses of it…glimpses…through our children’s eyes, don’t we? (-:

  8. Excellent, Susan. This past Sunday, I sat in our front yard and looked for four-leaf clovers. I watched my kids do the same thing several weeks ago, and I remember searching when I was young. What a simple joy to just sit and search through the clover. It was, to me, a lighting-bug in a jar kind of moment. (Loved that sentence.) Nicely done!

  9. Oh, my one of my absolute favorite things about having my daughter was having public premission – even encouragement! – to go outside and play again.

    • RIGHT? And then I quickly realized, holy cow, an additional 90 lb of body weight makes the monkey bars HARD!! Glad you’re out and enjoying it, and your post this week for yeah write was PHENOMENAL. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Our children are in our lives for a reason. Not only do we raise and teach them, they also teach us so much too. I totally get your usage of the word believe. I am a mother of three… something I could never have comprehended 10 years ago. My life is so different because of my kids… they both teach me to believe and remind me to believe.

    • Thanks, Kate. Dane reminds me daily of how lucky we are to have him and how much farther I have to go to be the kind of mother and parent I want to be. The way he’s changed me already is mind-boggling! Best to you and your fab three… they’re lucky ones!

  11. The references to Little House on the Prairie and Nightmare on Elm Street sent me straight back to my childhood. I love seeing my kids experience things that are new to them, it makes me step back and appreciate their innocence and wonder. Beautifully written post!

    • Thanks! It’s not often so serious in here, but some days I get a bug. And sadly, I STILL have nightmares about Freddy (as I write this at 9:21 at night JUST BEFORE BED). 🙂

  12. There was so much I found myself nodding in agreement to. Wonderful post and a big AMEN to that! Having kids has given me permission to be that crazy, loud, fun person I felt like I had to quiet down for a bit when I was suppose to be a grown up.

    • Remembering all of those wonderful books was sort of a side benefit to this post – so much of who I am as a writer came from what I read as a kid (for example, I blame Stephen King for my terrible, terrible cursing habit). Glad you loved them, too!

    • Thanks! I keep thinking I should change his picture since he’s so much older now, but that was the whole original inspiration for smushyface in the first place. glad you love it too! btw you have totally inspired me to attempt some overseas travel with Dane… i miss it so much!

    • that is an EXCELLENT point! i don’t understand the whole “high school was the best time of my life” philosophy – because being with Dane is like being seven again (except for the part where I’m the responsible adult… most of the time). i’ll take that over sixteen and awkward any day!

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