You were three years old. I sat at our breakfast table, sorting through a stack of bills, a basket of towels nearby waiting to be folded and put away. And you wanted to play. Feeling pressed for time, I grabbed a big blue towel.
“Here, I know what you can do.” Draping the towel so it fell around your shoulders, I tied a thick, clumsy knot. “Now go in the backyard and fly around like Superman!” With a spark in your eyes and a grin from ear to ear, off you ran. It seemed like you were already flying.
Five minutes later, you were back by my side. “Mommy, Mommy. It’s not right.” Thinking the towel was too tight, I adjusted the knot, loosening the fit around your neck. “There you go!”
But five minutes later…
“Mommy, Mommy. It’s still not right.” Your brow was seriously furrowed, your brown, eyes intense.
After studying your pretend Superman cape, I decided the way it fell horizontally was all wrong. Retying the towel so the vertical length could fall behind would give the towel-cape a better flow, making it feel more like a real cape. “There you go, Jacob. That should work now.” Honestly, it did look much better. Off you ran for the third time.
And for the third time, you ran back, tears in your eyes and completely frustrated. “Mommy, Mommy. No matter what I do, I just can’t fly!”
Then it donned on me. You, literally, expected to fly. You trusted my advice and believed you would really be able to fly around like Superman, just because I said so. That spark in your eyes, as I tied that blue towel around your shoulders – that spark was full of possibility, imagination, and hope.
This sweet memory of your little boy self – your pure innocence and enthusiasm contrasted with the disappointment that you could not really fly and that Mommy couldn’t fix everything – captures so much. I think that’s the dance of life, a constant to and fro movement, from our hopes and dreams to dealing with our disappointments and challenges. Step forward, step back, and turn around.
For nearly nineteen years we’ve danced with life just like that. And you have filled my heart with lessons, love, and such joy. There is not one thing I would change. To spare you the disappointment would be to rob you of the wisdom, compassion, and joy you share, now, so generously with others. I could not be more proud of you. No matter what life brings, Sweet Boy, my prayer is that you will keep turning back to that spark of possibility, imagination, and hope.
Congratulations! Happy Graduation Day!
I love you forever,
P.S. Now that you’re old enough to understand metaphor… Go and Fly!