View From Table 9

October 19, 2016

The Boy Who Could Fly

Filed under: musings — table9 @ 6:19 pm

For the longest time, I told myself, my son, everyone, that it was all about what he wanted to do. That whatever he wanted, my son, I would support.

It was also about doing what I ‘should’ do. I’d make sure he had what he needed to be successful. Do the best by him. Do what the experts say. Help him understand, accept, even love the way he’s wired. Make sure he has a physical outlet, a creative outlet, he is a Warrior and that’s what Warriors demand. That’s what a good mother does, right? Sees her son’s dreams and helps him follow them? Makes sure he has the tools to sustain himself, to teach him how to leave and be able to create the life he wants for himself, because we showed him how.

So when he stopped going along with the program, my instinct to simply override and push through took over. This was the right thing. This was the best thing, for him, I’m just being a good parent to him. Ignore the hostility and the digging in of the heels, he will get over it and he will see that there is power in flight, and that he should never, ever abandon it. So few in this world have that fearlessness, that joy, he must not be permitted to waste this.

I wanted to believe that my drive is selfless, all for him. That’s not 100% true. I loved to see him fly. I would sit for hours on hard benches, in dusty gyms, in all weather, just to watch. When he flies, it’s a thing of beauty, an alchemy of grace and strength. To see him float, to watch him soar, that made everything worth it.

He was always interested in flying. From the time he was a baby, in one of those motorized swings, it had to be on the highest, fastest setting or he would not tolerate it. He fell asleep zooming back and forth, back and forth. When his father would toss him in the air, when his cousins would play ‘catch the baby’ he would laugh with pure joy. Again! Higher! Pushing him so high on the swing the other parents would gasp with fear, him laughing the whole time. I learned not to flinch, to push down my urge to say Stop! He could get hurt. Of course he could, and he did. That is the nature of flying, and the unbreakable pull of gravity. He seemed to be charmed, though, as injuries were few.

He started in gymnastics with the idea that it would give him an outlet for his boundless energy, good muscle memory and some skills he could apply to other sports. Gymboree, then Little Gym, then “Big Gym.” We didn’t expect that he would reject all other sports introduced to him: swimming, baseball, tennis, soccer. It was then that it dawned on me why: He couldn’t fly through the air on a field or court, and that is what he wanted to do most. Be on the bar, on the rings, and any chance he got on the trampoline.

It never occurred to me that a time would come when he wouldn’t want to fly any longer. How could that be? There was so much joy, fearlessness, freedom in the flying. I selfishly ignored the signs he was grounding himself, believing that the joy that was once there hadn’t left. That I could, once again, watch him float, twist, flip and soar.

Then, today, from his coach. “I think he has lost all interest in the trampoline.” I was not prepared for how sad I would be, how much I will miss this time, how I want to scream that it’s not fair to take this away from me, except it never was mine to begin with. It’s his, to do with what he wants.

It amazes me that what was once full of joy is now ‘boring’. Something so central to him, now not interested. I don’t know quite how to process that. It frightens me that there is no new joy, no new passion filling that place once held by the need to defy gravity. What that means to who he’s becoming. What happens next. How this creature of the air lives with both feet permanently on the ground.

Also, to grieve, as well as to acknowledge my truth – that it wasn’t always just about what he wanted. I wanted it too, probably more than him. This gift was never mine. I have always been a witness to it, and what a great experience that was.

I will miss this more than I can express in words.

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