The other day Jesse went up to the girls’ room, unplugged their little lamp, and then, with the help of a stepping-stool retrieved from the bathroom, took it down from their tall dresser and brought it into my room where he plugged it in, examined the lit bulb through the hole in the top of the shade, then set it next to where I was lying and said, “Mom, how do you cook food with a light bulb?”
(one of my favorite pictures of Jesse – taken a few months ago)
It took me a minute to figure what he was asking. Then I remembered Jesse watching me closely a few days ago as I changed the bulb in the girls’ Easy Bake Oven.
“Well,” I replied, “When you turn light bulbs on they don’t just get bright. They also get really hot. So in the girls’ oven when the little pan moves over the light bulb, all that heat cooks the food.”
“Oh.” He nodded as he experimentally touched the metal ring holding the shade onto the lamp.
“Don’t touch it,” I reminded him, “It gets hot. You could really burn yourself.”
“Yah,” he agreed. “This part’s already hot! But, if you turn it off and wait a long (he paused to look at me – knowing I would expect caution) long long time, then it’s not hot anymore and you can touch it!” He turned the lamp off and began his wait.
Questions about objects and how every single one of them in this universe work are not the only type of questions Jesse has. Oh no. He wants to understand all sorts of things that most of us simply take for granted.
Lately there has been a whole lot of, “Mom? What is behind the walls? What is under the tile? What is under the carpet?” But also, many matters of the mind and heart.
“Mom what does stumble mean?”
“It means kind of like trip – or almost fall.”
“Then why does that guy in that song say, ‘stumble on things I don’t know’?” (Mumford and Son’s “Awake My Soul”)
“Mom, why do you always kiss everybody?”
“Because I love you guys.”
“What? Why do you always kiss us?”
“Because you guys are my kids and I love you so much.”
“Oh. (Pause). Thanks for sayin’ that, Mom.”
“I love you so much.”
Me – glancing in the rearview mirror as I drive with Jesse and Anders the other day: “I sure love you boys.”
Jesse: “Why, Mom?”
“Yah. Why do you love me, Mom?”
“Why do you think I love you?”
“Ummm . . .” he thinks for a minute but comes up with nothing.
“Do you think I love you because you are my very own little boy who I always love no matter what?”
He raises his eyebrows and considers then smiles wide and nods.
Still, he occasionally pauses and takes time to just be a newly-turned-four little boy; to simply notice or state with out solving.
As we headed out into another freezing morning of taking the kids to school this week he sighed and said, “Mom, I like to play in the snow, but sometimes I get tired. And it just keeps staying and staying.”
And, after Anders drooled a bit on his toy car the other day: “MOM! Anders slobbered on this!! I’m not ginna call him . . . I’m not ginna call him Anders! (In complete anger) I’m ginna call him Slobbery Boy!”
Bless his little 4-year-old heart. He’s got a lot of living ahead of and in him. I like so much that this little soul full of such strong and clear passion and drive is mine -- that he isn’t just existing elsewhere where I don’t get to know and love and be amazed and exhausted by such intense curiosity and purpose.