My 4 year old son, Mike, is a special kind of guy. First, he is my son, which makes him special regardless of how many spiritual teachings I hear to the contrary. Second, he seems to have his eyes wide open and his head on a swivel. His open eyes allow him to focus intently on any given topic, while the “head on a swivel” means that such intense focus comes in only short spans. Even though the attention is short, he absorbs nearly everything a 4 year old can in that brief moment of attention. The following is an excerpt from a pretty brief conversation we had; a conversation that made the student the teacher and the teacher, well, astounded.
We were driving to my daughter’s dance recital. The radio was off, giving us both time to talk to each other and to share the ride without distraction. This portion of the discussion went went something like this:
Mike: Dad, I want to go play tennis.
Me: Really Mike? Where’d you learn how to play tennis?
Mike: In my brain (he still pronounces his “r”s as “w”s, adding to the cuteness of his methodology).
Me: Wow, so you learned how to play tennis in your brain?
Mike: Yeah Dad, and I could kill you with the ball!
Me: Mike, why would you want to do that?
Ok, so not very spiritual and not very peaceful but that’s my Mike. A more sensitive boy you’ll never meet, even if he says he want to join the Army to “kill bad guys”. See, he
follows that statement with, “and I want to be a pizza delivery boy so I can help people get their food.” Needless to say I am not that concerned at this stage about him becoming a Special Operative who assassinates bad guys in between deliveries of a large cheese with mushrooms. One of those I can certainly see him doing as the kind of boy he is now. The other? Well let’s just say I don’t see high-powered rifles and black makeup in his future. Of course, I could be wrong.
So, to continue our conversation. As I mentioned, his head is on a swivel as we pass an exclusive country club. There are people putting on a green near the highway.
Mike: Dad, is that golf?
Me: Sure is Mike. You like golf?
Mike: When we are done at Gianna’s dance thing, can we go there to play golf?
Me: I don’t think so Bud. That is a club that only allows members, and your Dad doesn’t want to pay to be a member.
Mike: Can I pay then?
Me: Sure Mike. Go get a job and earn the money. Then, if you decide you want to use that money to pay for a membership you can.
Mike: Dad, can you get me a job?
Me: Depends. Do you have any skills?
Mike: I have lots of skills. I can go potty, I can put on my shoes, I can cut down trees, and I can pick flowers. I can talk to birdies too, watch…
(rolls down car window and draws that focus on a robin sitting on the curb next to the traffic light we are stopped at)
Mike: tweet tweet tweet…oops scared him away. Dad I can scare birds. Tweet tweet tweet!!
Me: Mike, those are some cool skills. What others do you have?
Mike: I told you I can cut down trees and flowers. (Laughs) I can’t cut down flowers Dad, but I can pick them. (I laugh because I know Mike would cry if he ever hurt a tree).
Me: Well, maybe soon you can get a job. Then you can earn money and decide how to use it.
Mike: Dad, can we get ice cream?
I love that swivel. I used to have one until adulthood stole it from me. How can I get it back? I mean I wonder when I made life so difficult and stopped seeing it in such simple terms as my 4 year old son. When did I make life so difficult? Probably when I decided that I needed a car to get to dance recitals and kids to do the dancing. I guess in most aspects I would not trade any of my life for the short attention span and swivel my son now enjoys. No, now is his time to use those gifts, and my time to allow him to use them. Someday it will be much different for him, but his Dad will always remember a simpler time when Army men delivered pizzas in their spare time (or was it the other way around?). I will remember these special little moments that not only remind me of who I am, but also of a world long left behind. It will be moments like this when I fondly remember the boy who stopped chasing butterflies and started chasing dreams.