When I was 4
We are many miles and many time zones away from each other as I write this. It is early in the morning here in the Old World and you are still sleeping back home.
I’ve been thinking again, about being a father and having this small son of mine. Our relationship is changing, changing so rapidly that I have almost daily realizations that he is not the boy he was just the day before, that he is asking new questions, tougher questions and challenging me, and loving me in different ways as his mind becomes more and more seasoned and his personality begins to show itself in new and unexpected ways.
This morning when I was sitting alone in the kitchen, making coffee and waiting for the sun to rise, I thought of you and wished you were here with me, sitting across the table, so that I could ask you about your experiences as the mother of a small boy. I know things were different then, you had a houseful of little boys and finally one small girl, but I expect you would have something to tell me about all of this growing that is going on. So here are a few of the things I was wondering about. Just pretend we are together this morning, talking like we used to do.
I know it was a very long time ago, but do you remember what I was like at four?
Did I wake up early in the morning singing like a kitten with my eyes pressed closed and the bed covers pulled up over my head, waiting for you to come in and find me?
Where there times when I made you just a little bit crazy, especially in the late afternoon when I was hungry and wanted something sweet to eat, and then something else and something else again until I ruined my appetite for dinner?
Did I insist that you sit with me on the floor of my bedroom for hours while I acted out imaginary scenarios filled with firemen and monsters?
Did I ask you the same questions over and over again just to hear the sound of your voice?
Did I look up at you at night after you read me a story and rub your back and tell you that I loved you?
Were there moments when you wished I would be forever four years old?
And finally: Is there an image from a moment when I was young, which you carry around in your memory when you think of me, or have they all morphed into the picture of the man I have become? How does that work Mom? Will I always feel that he is my small, red-cheeked boy, running ahead of me with his blue jeans falling half-off and his tennis shoes on backward, so proud of himself that he was able to put on his clothes all by himself?
I look forward to hearing from you. I know it’s hard for you to talk on the phone these days, but maybe you can drop me a note or ask sister Mary to sit with you and write down what you have to say. You are often in my thoughts, particularly in the morning, when the rooms are quite and I have time to think. I hope you know that, and I hope you know I love you.