The way he delicately grabbed the large crayon big enough for a baby’s hand but too big for an adult's hand reminded me of the way I wanted to pick him up and hug him: You are so loved. Rohen didn’t yet know about substance abuse or poverty or hunger or sadness or loss. I could tell he knew what love was when I crouched behind the counter, called his name, and popped out at him as he rounded the corner into the kitchen: “LOLLY!” he screamed and jumped and clasped his hands together as though it were his birthday and I was the present he unraveled from the glistening bow. Life is simple for him; he can climb into his Fisher-Price red and yellow car and drive to Mommy’s House. He understands the complexities of jokes: Rohen, can I have one of your fries? He gave me a low-five and a smile.
I hope he knows he is loved just like I wish I could tell my younger self how loved I was.
Am I smart enough? Am I confident enough? Am I thin enough? Am I fast enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I worthy?
I wondered all of these things when I should have focused on smiling and laughing and playing and telling jokes and eating fries. Instead, my self-confidence hid behind the kitchen counters, and when I ran around every empty room looking for it, it remained crouched and concealed. It was out of sight, and so was I.
When I look at Rohen and see how much of a true, real human he is—albeit smaller—I feel both happiness and sorrow. His favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate and his favorite sport right now is basketball. It was soccer the last time I saw him. He changes every day, and he possesses this ability to understand the calming voice of his mother when she tries to reason with him. She doesn’t scold him or berate him: she understands he is a child and he needs to feel loved in order to gain his respect. Through his tears and his screams after he knocked over a walker, her voice reached him and his eyes widened—they opened up and let her inside: Don’t break things. Grandpa needs that later. A smile spread across his face as he turned to run toward his car. It was time for a joy ride.
Yet, I still felt sorrow.
When he brought out the washable crayons and coloring book again, he gracefully drew across the page—away from the lines and far enough away from the edge of the paper.
“He’s so careful when he colors,” I found it almost remarkable as I spoke to his mom.
“Right? That’s how he is when he paints too,” her voice was as gentle as his sketches.
He is a gentle soul.
At two years old, he does not yet know his father’s artistic talents. For his birthday, his father drew him a picture of an owl accompanied by a soothing nursery rhyme:
A wise old owl sat on
The more he saw the
less he spoke
The less he spoke the
more he heard
Why can’t we be like
that old bird?
The same colors Rohen used as he sat perched at the kitchen counter had been displayed in that picture.
“Ro, what color is this?” We had been working on colors.
“Orange.” He was correct.
“What about this one?”
“Lellow.” Right again. It continued: red, blue, green, brown. He knew them all.
His grandma had his father's drawing framed. Her and his mother gave it to him. We will all watch over him like that old bird.
Lauren is a Ball State University alumna with a Bachelor's degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. She enjoys breakfast for dinner with a side of literary enjoyment.