He tells me, “Daddy, can you ask Santa for the Lego police station?”
And I remind him: “Buddy, you mean: can ‘I’ ask Santa for the Lego police station?”
Pronouns are elusive. “Daddy, can I ask Santa for the Lego police station?”
I nod sagely. “Yes. When we get home, we’ll add it to your Santa list.”
Then he notices he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt. He remembers it is August, and Christmas is forever away. “I don’t wait Santa to bring it! I want the mailman to bring it!”
(In Dickensian terms, this would be The Ghost of Amazon Addictions Past, Present and Future coming to haunt me. My own insatiable thirst for instant gratification in recycled brown cardboard boxes drifting down through the generations via osmosis and avarice. Somewhere, miles away, unaware of the conversation, my wife clucks her tongue disapprovingly.)
My eyes roll back in my head with the practiced ease of an eighth grade girl. What manner of beast have we created, I wonder. “I dunno, buddy. I’m thinking Santa might be a better bet.”
This response is unacceptable, and his voice kicks up several gears to a high-pitched whine. “No! No, I want the mailman to bring it to our house tomorrow! I don’t wanna wait for Santa I want the mailman to bring it!”
I am trying not to think of the Lego Police set in my mind’s eye, brought to vivid life as I have seen it on the Lego corporate megasite dozens of times over recent weeks. The multi-story tower, blue and white, with traffic signals and stairwells and black and white cruisers and tiny little plastic malefactors, waiting to be hauled off to make their penance to Lego society. It retails for something like $14,000.00, contains well over half a million tiny little jagged pieces, and will be the death of my world should it ever enter my house.
“We’ll see,” I say. The classic go-to move. Like the Dream Shake, the skyhook, the Gervin finger-roll, the Duncan kiss off the glass: a maneuver so timeless and perfect that its magic becomes lost in repetition. It flows from my lips like water bubbling from a spring. The air sings in tender recognition.
My son is unimpressed. “I want to see it on my computer. Can we see on my computer? When we get home?” I am barely reversing the car out of our spot at this point, barely beginning the beginning of my second shift, the post-work pickup and dinner fixin’ and child entertainin’ that takes us through to 8:30pm, nearly a full 15 hours since our day began with the same wee creatures running, giggling, leaping into our bed – plush homunculi clutched tightly in sweaty little hands – and signaling the initiation of another rotation of our happy little slice of time-space from darkness into daylight and then, gently, back into darkness again. “I want to buy it on my computer.”
I slip the car into drive, and as we begin to pull forward on the next stage of our journey (over the river, through the woods, to the house of daytime Twinsanity we go) I breathe heavily – a sigh, of sorts – and mumble platitudes as I reach forward to turn the stereo on, to distract him from this fever of acquisition with whatever I’ve loaded in to distract him in the past. As I wait for it to load, keep telling him, “Hold on, hold on, just a minute,” waiting to hear if the fickle gods will bring us the gentle chimes of the Sloop John B, reminding us of how we want to go home, please let us go home, or Aerogramme’s convoluted and gorgeous Conscious Life for Coma Boy – my son has learned to love and sing along to the heartbreak of “I don’t know how to get there, I don’t know how to get there,” perhaps because he lives in trust that I do and always will know how to get him there, wherever it is that he needs to go – but then we hear that familiar rush of joyous guitar and drum, and before I can even realize that I’d cued it up that morning in anticipation that he’d want to hear it he exclaims “Get On, Me!” and like that, we’re both swept up into the energy of The Brother Kite and for a moment
(I take a breath)
for a moment I forget and lose myself in the moment and I’m not conscious of who we are, that this bright and curious boy sitting behind me, mouthing and trying to phonetically articulate the complex sounds and lyrics of the song as they rush by, bobbing his head in furious, joy-saturated time with the beat, his hands clasped tightly together as if locked in prayer, that today he is six and someday will be twelve but not long ago was three and we used to count – with infinite care and delicacy, as if tracking the passage of strange angels through the sky – each word as it came from his sweet bow lips, studying how it linked to others, finding a reason for hope in that blue moon moment when four or five (or, did we just imagine it, was that six? six that we heard?) words came together to form a thought, a verbal expression of thought and intent and will, an effort of communication that might reduce stone to dust and give us the strength to believe that another step, another gentle, tentative half-step might be taken forward, that someday there might be a someday when
and he is full of wonder and energy and the momentary glee of recognition and harmony and then – just as quicksilverquick – he is alive again with words and inquisition: “What comes next, Daddy? Is it Waiting for the Time to be Right?” and he is right, of course, because he memorizes song order and title and often leaves me in the dust, and then he’s off again asking “Is this song on my computer?” and I almost have half a second to laugh, as I do each time, because this is what happened in less than a day to my wife’s new, beautiful laptop that our son instantaneously co-opted and claimed as his own, not only opening word docs and typing lists to Santa and kicking open browsers and pulling down bookmarks to favored destinations but mastering in minutes the fine motor challenge of navigating via touchpad when he’d never seen or used a touchpad before, apply and generalizing his knowledge of how to move onscreen with the mouse and justlikethat he found his own home, his own space, his own life on the screen (this makes me smile; recognition is funny that way) and then just as quickly he’s back on track with “I want to go to Lego City on my computer when we get home, okay? Okaaaaaay?” and before I can even think to respond or redirect he’s on a roll, his attention skittering back and forth between the song and the possibilities of a Lego world awaiting him online when we get home and I think, only one more week until he’s back in school and first grade begins and wonder
and I wonder what wonders the next year will hold.