Footnotes: Thoughts from the margins of a mom’s life

When my son first laid eyes on our new car, a crossover vehicle intended to accommodate our toddler and soon-to-arrive infant, he cried, “It’s a blue police car van!” As the weeks went by, I adopted the new nickname myself. I didn’t think much of it. We have a lot of little names for things around our house. Calling the car “the blue police car van” seemed relatively normal – or so I thought until one April morning.

William was taking a bath while I gazed out the bathroom window. And then, through the hedge of my backyard, I saw it. The vehicle was the precise shade of blue as our new car. It was a van. And on top was a flashing red light. “William!” I cried in genuine astonishment, “It’s a blue police car van!” He looked at me blankly. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was the blue police car van a real vehicle, but it was merely an arms-length away. The van, I found out later, belongs to one of our neighbors. It was as if William had told me about an imaginary monster and then there it was strolling across our back lawn.

I try to teach William things all the time: what his nose is called, what a red light means, the importance of saying please. That our car bears a startling resemblance to a blue police car van is one of the first things he has taught me, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. For if the blue police car van exists on our very street, what else is right under my nose that I am missing? What I really learned that day was more fundamental than planes, trains and automobiles. My son is not an extension of me, just as I am not an extension of him. By seeing the world through his eyes, my own vision can become richer and more complete – and, best of all, more fun.

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