When I was a little girl, I sang to the stars.
I don’t remember the words or any particular tune, but I remember those cold night-time car rides when I tucked myself against the window so I could see the sky. I sang under my breath so that only the stars could hear me.
One night, riding in my grandmother’s car, she asked me to sing louder. I remember the smile on her face, open and welcoming. There was nothing in her request except kindness, but I felt exposed and ashamed. My back seat bubble had suddenly popped, and all I could do was turn my head away from the window and close my eyes.
I never sang to the stars again, and now I don’t remember what I used to say to them.
I take delight in so many things that Atticus does. His stories and movements and play all make me laugh. Even the bathtub hand-waving lectures about how he doesn’t really need his hair washed, okay are hilarious to me because I see how he is trying so hard to tell us about his independence. I laugh sometimes at his fits because it’s just ridiculous how stubborn he is and how helpless I am to control another human being. I laugh because he is delightful, even when he is telling me That’s not very nice when I have denied him something he thinks he should be entitled to have.
I get scared that I am laughing too much. Oh, I want him to grow up in a house where the walls ring with laughter, but at the same time I am afraid that I will inadvertently teach him to be ashamed of his feelings and his personality. I don’t want him to think that I am laughing at him. I want him to know that I am laughing with him because it is such a joy to see him grow. As his sense of self grows stronger, I know he will need more privacy and autonomy. I pray that I will find ways to express my delight that don’t cause him to shy away.
This winter I have thought a lot about that little girl I used to be, the one who sang to the stars with such abandon. I hear Atticus sing to himself sometimes, and I am careful not to ask too many questions.