13 March 2008
the great escape
there must have been a hundred worms out on the sidewalk this morning, all of them inching along the slick wet concrete, all of them as bewildered by their predicament as we were. on the way into preschool, ezra and I had to stop and look at every single one. normally, I'd be pulling him along impatiently. no time for looking, for anything but getting on with the business of the day. this morning, I didn't pull. instead, I watched as he crouched down low to inspect each worm. he prodded them gently with soggy twigs and whispered commentary to no one in particular, as if he were speaking into a small tape recorder, making notes for future worm-hunting expeditions. I watched as he lost himself there in that world-- no one but him and those grey, undulating worms in the cold morning air.
several months ago, he found a spiderman costume in a box labeled 'free, take me'. he cried out triumphiantly and lifted a tired blue nylon suit high into the air. it was all I could do to keep him from stripping down right then and there. we were promptly informed by our neighbor that the costume had been worn (relentlessly) by both of her sons. as ezra continued to wave his doughy little fist in the air, I wondered if the suit had the strength to survive even one more boy. six months later and the answer to that is an enthusiastic yes. the minute ezra slips that costume on, he is absolutely transformed. doesn't matter that there are runs (that lead to bigger runs that lead to gaping holes) up the back of the leg, that the suit hangs loose and crooked on his small frame. it ties and gaps in the back like a hospital gown, which I find ridiculously charming. no, none of this really matters when ezra locks into character. he lunges and snarls, shoots imaginary webs from his fingers and performs a combination of spins and rolls and kicks until he is wild-eyed and completely lost. lately, these performances have taken on alarming new levels of intensity. I am convinced we have a young method actor in the making. I think of all the grown method actors as three year-olds, tirelessly channeling the likes of superheroes until exasperated parents demand they stop it already and eat their oatmeal.
a couple of weeks ago, just before bed one night, ezra got so wrapped up in his spiderman act that I swear to you, we had to clap to snap him out of it. ezra! we yelled. come back to us, buddy! no more spiderman! time for bed! he was fully submerged, deep in spidey-world and we had to clap a couple more times to bring him back. the following day, I called my mom and told her about it. crazy, I said. the way he was just so into it. well, this is what kids do, she said and she told me how she used to run an orphanage for dolls when she was little, how the hours seemed to fly by as she cared for each parentless doll. (interesting that she eventually pursued a degree in social work). she also told me how she often pretended to be a famous artist and while she's not exactly famous, she's an artist in every sense of the word.
for me, it was always about imaginary travels. I'd pack up my little canvas suitcases and go on 'trips', which usually meant a walk down to the end of the driveway near a small ditch. if it was filled with water, I could pretend I was vacationing on the banks of an exotic river. I would unpack my bags, set up camp and create imaginary itineraries which usually included elaborate picnics and searches for fool's gold. I completely lost myself in the world of make-believe travel. which might explain why I am happiest when traveling (or planning trips), why I am always dreaming of road trips, weekend getaways, travels to new cities and foreign countries. this might explain why my house is filled with old globes and pull-down school maps, why I occasionally wonder if I should've been a travel writer.
I'm not exactly sure what this means for ezra (or ava, for that matter), or if it even means anything at all, but I am taking careful notes. if ezra turns out to be an actor, I'll have plenty of interesting little stories to share with him. see? you were method acting before you could even read, I'll say to him. maybe he'll remember, maybe he won't. most likely, he'll end up taking a completely different direction in life. thousands upon thousands of possibilities which is what makes childhood so grand, what makes it so magic.