A few weeks ago, on a Saturday, my seven-year-old and I set out on an adventure together. I believe in pulling my children away from each other for one-on-one time with each of them. They all have very different personalities and one on one time allows them to be themselves fully without the sometimes awkward dance of balance and siblings. This time not only allows me to be fully present with each of them, it also allows me to know them outside of the normal chaos of our lives, to listen to their needs, questions, confessions, to just be present.
This was Mason’s day, and science is his thing, so we headed down to Mini Maker Faire at our local science and industry museum to contemplate invention and design. We widened our eyes and minds with 3-D replication engineering, glass blowing, robotics, and couldn’t leave without stopping in to see the newest Lego exhibition. My son was cool with his hands his pockets; though I noticed his heart on his sleeve. And as we bounced around all over town that day, every now and then, as we crossed the street, I held out my hand and he easily slid his hand in mine. But before I could sigh a sense of, “he’s not too old to still hold my hand,” his fingers would slip away, swinging along his slow stride.
I was happy in this very moment with my oldest son, as we took our day slow, talking or silent, walking or standing still. It was the last day of the Bebe Miller exhibition at Urban Arts Space so my hope was to get my seven-year-old from science to art all in one swift shift, after lunch on a full belly was my strategy to slip ourselves into the galleries downtown. In front of Miller’s work, contemporary dance written in images, the history curling inside the streaming video feeds, my curious (and cool) son walked through the show slowly, stopping to read or look, sitting on the bench staring at me, at the faded color images and bodies wound in tights, in each other’s outstretched limbs. It was the end of our day, a few minutes until the close of the exhibition, and as grace (or luck) would have it, BeBe Miller in person walked by with a few friends. It was a brilliant moment, one I could not have ever planned or expected. I stopped to greet her and shared our experience in the exhibition. Miller and her friends took interest in my son, his shy eyes and sincere smile. They talked with him about dance, and honored his interests as he lit up talking about movement, hip hop., and breakdance. I just watched and let him hold his own with the elders. Inside I smiled thinking, “If we listen, the elders will teach us. And when they listen, we may speak what we have learned.”
I learned something that day, as I always do when spending time with my children. As he and I wandered through our day, between art and science, between dance and design, between he and I, I remembered how our interests blurred that warm autumn day, and how that blur was just us— present—in love and wonder.