Gone today, here tomorrow


After dinner she tossed the teddy bear in the air over and over again, catching it maybe 50% of the time at best. Said, with a seriousness available to only a five and a half year-old, that this was her new goal: to toss the bear up as high as possible and try to catch it.  That her dubious success rate should be anything to be aware of, much less embarassed about, is beyond her ken.

I should also note that this goal sits side-by-side with the goal of reading thirty chapter books before the end of the summer, and mastering the proper deployment of the term “infernal.” I might be exaggerating a bit about the number of chapter books she’s looking to polish off this summer.

This mind-boggling juxtaposition is surely one most precious jewels of childhood.

We are at the cusp here, a time when self-consciousness begins to creep in, stealthy, on little cat feet, like Carl Sandberg’s fog. Except unlike that fog, I suspect her self-conscisousness won’t sit on silent haunches and then move on.  If she’s like most homo sapiens, it will sit on silent haunches and settle down for a lifetime.  And I’ll have as much ability to keep that self-consciousness at bay as I would the fog.

The mixed blessing of consciousness (period; not just of the self) is that it’s a portal. I would welcome her self-awareness, for instance; ultimately, her self-knowledge will be one of her most valuable gifts to herself.  But not too soon; not too soon.

Every parent will tell you this, it’s not new. Yet it catches my breath nearly every day: watching a childhood unfold right before your very eyes is a daily exercise in letting go.

2 thoughts on “Gone today, here tomorrow”

  1. The dawning of self-consciousness is pretty interesting too, because they veer back and forth across that divide so easily. The unpredictability of it is like magic.

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