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.


  1. oh andrea, this is what makes me so excited to become a mom... all that getting lost in another world. I think I am as excited to go along on those journeys as my future babe will be.
    I remember playing "librarian" for HOURS when I was little. I also remember playing scrabble, against myself no less. this is what only children do.
    all so exciting and wonderful.
    happy friday friend. I am glad you are writing again out here I have missed it.

  2. i completely agree with you!

    and i totally love the texture and processing on your photo.

  3. yes, me too.
    to everything you said.
    and that Ness said too - well except the "future mom" part :)!
    i really do think we should plan some future joint travel adventures love...pack a picnic and look for fools gold...wouldn't that be grand?
    happy day and weekend!

  4. i love, love, love the viewfinder images... how do you do it?

  5. I used to try to save those worms...

  6. this is a wonderful post - a tiny snapshot of childhood, the bits we tend to forget when we get older, but here it is, preserved for Ezra to read before his opening night on Broadway :-) thank you for sharing, A x

  7. i just won a kodak duaflex on ebay! whoo hoo, i'm on my way!

    thanks for the introduction to TTL.

  8. oops ... TTV!!

    see? i didn't know anything of this until today and i'm way too excited to even type correctly. :)

  9. Such a sweet post. Any chance we might get to see the little super hero in his costume?

    I love it when I'm at the grocery store and see a kid all dressed up as a cowboy or some other magnificent costume. Life's much more interesting when you can grocery shop among the cowboys and super heros and heroines of the world.

  10. Nice memories and observations. I wonder what playing "Island of the Blue Dolphins" in the backyard for hours meant? Love the photo (and your children's names are beautiful).

  11. ok. so much to love here.

    clapping out of character?
    ah... i can remember really thinking i was wonder woman and could repel bullets w/ my gold wristbands....

  12. this post pressed on the soft spot of my heart. xoxo.

  13. I heart this post in the biggest way. All too often we try to squelch this sort of play in kids. I used to arrange our old living room furniture into a set in the garage and pretend I was a character in an old B&W CBS soap, serving coffee to the neighbor (a large stuffed rabbit) while imagining I was wearing a dress, pumps and pearls. I wanted to be a drummer and played air drums to the Stones' "Between the Buttons" album every day after school...(probably no surprise I ended up with a drummer). But my big dream was to be Carol Merrill on "Let's Make a Deal." I spent hours upon hours hand-waving my way through our living room and kitchen when no one else was home. Hope Ezra will always be able to conjure up his inner Spiderman...

  14. hello...
    i just stopped in and fell in love with this post. it reminds me so much of my little guy who tirelessly gets locked into being a dinosaur and lives out the majority of his days in imaginative plays.
    it also is taking me back to what i was consumed with as a child.
    thank you for the beautiful story telling!

  15. a beautiful lesson here... letting children be who they want to be. (and taking time to let them explore) my 4-year-old is a cowboy most of the time. i love those moments when he forgets i'm listening... and talks about things. its incredibly sweet.

  16. I lived a story with Andrea when she must have been 3 or 4 years old...she wandered off and walked downtown Albion or Lincoln??... all by herself when we were supposed to be with a baby sitter while our parents were getting ready to go out for dinner! Where did you go that evening??? I wonder??

  17. Andrea, what a beautiful post. One of the greatest parts of childhood is the freedom to imagine and play. I can't wait until I have my own child to share this sort of thing with!

    This did remind me of a time with my brother. We were around 5-6yrs. We had a special pet worm one afternoon. Needless to say he didn't survive the bath we gave him. We gave that dear worm a special funeral and burial in our backyard. God bless his little wormy heart...he didn't have a chance one we got our hands on him.

  18. lovin that photo

  19. kids being kids is so awesome. i loved reading this post. my nephew is so into spiderman right now.