Anna Rosenblum Palmer shares what she wants her son to know are her deepest wishes for him.
My Dear Love,
It might be the bowl cut that you think you will have until you are old. You imagine it will go from golden to grey and just on those few fancy days will you part it in the middle, slicking it down with both hands like Waldo’s mother did before he boarded the bus in that video that you will never see. It could be the light in your eyes as you beam at me asking how I like your hair like this.
It could be how you wave around your papers as you run home, breathless, to explain how you didn’t quite get the 102 because you forgot the units again. Maybe it is how you can barely sit in your seat at school, not fidgeting out of boredom, but vibrating with the excitement of academics as your interest propels you upwards. Perhaps it is because you earnestly asked where you should apply the deodorant you requested. You thought it was your feet, because they smelled the worst. Logic never leaves you.
Maybe it is that you can only find one sock, so you wear one white and one black and pull them as close to your knees as you can. Even with your crocs. Which you are the last kid in school to sport. Or maybe it is sports overall, your teamlessness. The only low grade you have ever received paired with the comment, “Cannot control his body in space.” This confused you as you demonstrated jumping jacks in our living room, hitting your face with your hand, and literally tripping over your own feet as you tried to perform them in triple time to demonstrate your ability.
Maybe it is the songs you sing tunelessly. The ones about life being an oyster that holds a pearl. Locked tight for each of us to find. The trick, you scream sing, is that it can only be opened with kindness, not with force. If we are kind enough the world will open to us you proclaim in a monotone. You continue along these lines for 20 minutes, long enough even for parents to tire of your message. It is how you live your life though, allowing your brother to beat the crap out of you whenever he wants. When I ask you why you don’t defend yourself you pat my arm reassuringly. “I am a pacifist mama (you still call me mama at 10 and 3/4) the only thing worse that me getting hurt is me hurting someone else…and how do you think Leo would feel if he wasn’t safe around his older brother…that is a world I wouldn’t want to live in.”
Perhaps it grates on potential friends when you yell with enthusiasm when you are excited, which is approximately 98% of the time. Working towards 99 you tell me as you unwrap, with glee, a six pack of socks. You might be the only boy to be excited by socks. And wow, that moment when you realized that the six pack actually held SEVEN pairs. A bonus pair you exclaimed, loudly, it’s like two gifts in one. Your younger bother, naturally cool, looked at you through slitted eyes and shook his head slowly. A move and a judgment that you didn’t notice.
It that lack of noticing (so frustrating with the shampoo and the milk) that is both the blessing and the curse here. If you noticed the way other kids reacted to you, you might attract them more. And if you noticed the way kids reacted to you you might know that they are not particularly attracted towards you right now.
You have your two good friends, and that, it seems is enough. I wonder how you would feel if you knew that you didn’t make the birthday party cut. If you navigated that with grace would you have been flattened to know that when a few slots opened after the RSVPs you weren’t even a backup. I know how it makes me feel. For now at least this is my problem. I hold you close and try to send you my love and acceptance as you wriggle out of my embrace to thank me again for the socks. Again. The socks.
I don’t know exactly why you weren’t invited. It could be any of these reasons or something else entirely. I know what I wish for you my boy… and it is not birthday party invites.
May socks always bring you that last percentage of happiness. May you continue to enjoy the act of singing rather than caring about carrying a tune. May you treat the world with the kindness you summon for your brother. May you cherish the close relationships you have with the few and lucky people that love you.
Perhaps in fact the birthday boy is the one missing out. He will end up seven pairs of socks short. And missing more than he knows.
Love love love,
Photo credit: courtesy of the author.