I put up the Christmas lights for you in the middle of May. Some of the colored lights don’t work and they don’t do much for me anymore, but I put them up because I wanted you to see them. Actually, I wanted to look at you while you saw them.
The day before that, you and I both stared at a smudge on the windowpane. It was just an ordinary, greasy smudge to me. I would’ve wiped it clean, but then I noticed that you were gazing at it, deep in thought. You sighed, perhaps comprehending some inner beauty or truth which eluded me.
I’ve discovered that you find windows fascinating, especially ones that have blinds. You like lights too, but not very bright ones (and hence my presumption that you’d enjoy looking at Christmas lights).
It is true that as your parents we project our preferences on the outlandish outfits you wear, the places you visit, and the sounds you hear. We control your surroundings. But you are the master of what captivates you.
I have to admit that is an exhilarating experience seeing you find magic in objects which have long lost all significance for me. Am I trying to excavate my own forgotten prehistory from your expressions? Is any extrapolation even possible?
We went for a stroll together again today. I walked while you contributed by making walking motions inside your stroller. You stretched your neck to look at the trees lining the sidewalks near our home – trees which I had never bothered to notice on my way to work. We stopped under the shade to give you a better chance to look at the leaves moving in the breeze. Matter-of-factly, I started to explain what they were. “They’re trees you know…”
“Hoooouuu,” you replied with a serious expression.
I stopped. Yes, you’re right. They’re no more trees than I am my name. How should I, even with my years of studying botany, begin to explain the concept of trees to someone who has never seen them before? How should an alien describe a pristine planet in a language that is incomprehensible to a new arrival? They are as much hoooouuu as anything I or anyone else can call them.
Take your time looking around. Better to leave words unexplained and thoughts unanalyzed for now. Soon, the hoooouuu will be gone, uprooted and replaced by trees, and you will not remember what it felt like when you first saw them.