I have a five year old nephew. I’m not one of those who assigns mystical qualities to the mind of children, but every once in awhile they come up with those nuggets that make you laugh and think and laugh again. There are times when they ask us questions about life, or when the simplicities of their life present you with simple logic that accidentally falls out. These moments, more often than not, occur when no one else is looking. You’re not even looking some of the times, but when you look at it later you realize that something just happened there.
Aiden watches a lot action and superhero cartoons. Some of the times, I cheer on the bad guys to incite him into fiercly defending the good guys. “How can you tell the difference between good guys and bad guys?” I ask when my errors are pointed out to me.
“Look to the eyebrows…or the teeth,” Aiden says.
He constantly wants to recreate previous moments that we’ve shared together. He wants to pretend like he’s a mogwai, I’m the Dad, and his little brother is Zach. Tonight, he asked me to look under the stars with him and talk about things, like we did that one night. I told him: “Some of the times, you can only do things once in life. This is why when things happen, you have to appreciate them like they’ll never happen again.”
He misses me when I’m there. He talks about how we should do such and such in the future. He asks if I’m coming over to his house, so we can play such and such a game. I tell him that I’m here now, why don’t we play the game now? This probably isn’t as profound as I thought it was when it happened, but how many of us fail to appreciate the present in our desire to make a better future?
He’s constantly in an attempt to change his world. He thinks life will change drastically for him if he gets a new toy. He sees his life as a little hopeless at times, because he doesn’t have enough friends. He blames them, to some degree, for not recognizing him for who he is, but there is a part of him that he wishes he could change so that others will like him better. I told him: “We all wish that we could change some part of ourselves for whatever reason, and some of the times we do change, because we want people to like us. Changing rarely makes us as happy as we once were.”
On another occasion, Aiden fell down. He slipped on the ice and hit his noggin pretty good. He was fine, but it scared him. He cried for about two miles. His cries were ear piercing screams that would’ve left an onlooker with the belief that he was on fire. We all said a lot to try and get him to stop, but he couldn’t. He had gone too far into this crying fit to stop on command. Finally, Aiden piped in with a possible solution: “Maybe if I got the new Batman wings, maybe that would cheer me up.” We all laughed at the self-serving solution, for a new pair of Batman wings had never done anything to cheer us up. Is that what Aiden was looking for, I ask in retrospect, or was he simply looking for a reason to stop crying? When you’re a five year old searching hard for an identity that is comprised of peer review, it would defeat the purpose of the cry in the first place if he stopped on command. People may laugh at the fact that we’re searching for a solution too, but that doesn’t make it any less heartfelt.