Yesterday, Atticus saw a teeny tiny plane on the spine of our phone book. He ripped it off the shelf, chanting “aih-pane, aih-pane, aih-pane.” To his grave disappointment, there were no airplanes in the book. He was inconsolable. I tried to find some airplanes in the yellow pages, but the small pictures there did not make up for the fact that every other page was devoid of planes. There is a plane on the spine! Isn’t that how this book stuff works?!
(Mike and I both think the “plane” on the spine is actually a telephone pole sticking up over someone’s head. It does look a bit like an airplane, especially to an airplane-obsessed toddler. But we did not try to explain this to said toddler. We simply put the phone book in the recycle bin. Why do we even have a phone book? I don’t know. Stupid phone book.)
The one thing that pleased me about the meltdown was that Atticus could see something that did look like a plane. I worry all the time about his eyes, whether he will be able to see. When he picks out tiny details, I feel a degree of comfort: He doesn’t have to wear glasses. Yet.
When I started blogging, I chose “Through a Glass, Darkly” as my title. I can’t say that I thought all that much about it. I like the language of the King James Version. I like the reminder that we don’t understand everything that’s going on, but that there is hope for the future. Also I thought it would make me sound kind of spiritually cool.
It turns out that seeing and being seen is an idea that pops up a lot in my conversations and in my thoughts. Not just because of my history of poor vision, though that is certainly a big part of my story. But also because, as I was growing up, there were many times I felt invisible to the leaders of my church. They didn’t know my name, didn’t care about the things that I was interested in unless they were related to the church. Perhaps this was because of the structure of the church, or perhaps it was because I was a girl. And perhaps part of it was learned behavior: it is easier to hold back and claim red-headed stepchild status than to admit that you are afraid of further rejection.
A few weeks ago, our church had Youth Sunday, and it was, as always, a pleasure to watch our youth group use their gifts and to speak in their own voices about their experiences with God and their faith journeys. This is one of the things I meant when I said a few weeks ago that my church was saving my life. The children and youth at church are known in a way that I never was, and I cherish watching them. There is a measure of redemption for me to be seen as a person and to be given the opportunity to see the individual giftedness of those around me, including my own son. I am starting to better learn what that looks like, and it is exciting to think about raising him in a community that values his gifts rather than a system where he is shoehorned into certain ways of thought.
Yesterday afternoon, I gave Atticus some water and pulled him up on the couch with me. I held him until he stopped crying, and then grabbed a bunch of books. And though I am, frankly, tired of airplanes, we looked at pictures of them until he was happy. We practiced his letters and we watched the “big trucks” drive by. And then we looked at more airplanes.
Who is he going to be? How can I show him that those interests are important to me, simply because they are his? It won’t always be clear, so I have to remember to look.