Thursday, June 11, 2009


The word of the day is: precaution

Parker’s little legs are three years old. Barely three years old, and full of little boy energy and reckless abandon. He runs down my driveway without the benefit of steady rhythm, the way I beat on my legs like they are drums but I’m not a drummer. Fast, but undisciplined. I fear he will not get the second little knee in front of the first in time to keep himself erect. He laughs as he does this, his arms hanging down to his side like he is throwing the wind behind him and his head bobbing as he chases after a ball or heads to the garage when he notices a hammer. Sometimes the legs don’t keep up, then we get to snuggle and hug until mommy gets home. Three years old. This is the tail end of the pre-caution days. Soon he will learn to be careful. He will remember the fall and the hurt and the blood and the tears and he will say to himself at the top of the driveway, “Remember….” And though he will still hurry, it will be a hurry without innocence.

I weep for the steady loss of naiveté I see dripping out of my grandchildren. I savor every time Sophie says she wants to make chot-lick drop cookies, knowing soon she will notice someone snickering over the translation of the word chocolate. She will crank her head to the side, purse her eyebrows and think about what they are talking about; then she’ll notice that grownups say “chocolate” and she will determine to change the way she says it and that will be the end of it. Timo will realize, if he hasn’t already that the words to the song Take Me Out to the Ballgame are “root, root, root for the home team” and not “fruit, fruit, fruit for the Pirates”.
My boy went through this, and all my girls. They all lost the “pre” and have decided to hang on to the “caution”. Some, more than others. My boy, with the child-heart of three year old Parker, hangs too heavy on the caution. I thought this might never come. I wondered if he would live through his years of reckless abandon. But he turned his head on his way up the mountain he said he would live on as a bachelor-hobo-writer and saw her. Could not turn his head back away from her. Found himself tethered to the love of his life, to taking care of her, and the three little ones who came through her. They stand in four corners, each holding a thread that keeps him attached to the ground like the ropes on a hot air balloon. Wit and whimsy are a flame, burning in the center of him. The heat keeps him aloft. The love keeps him grounded.

If anything will pop the balloon, or douse the flame, it will be his own propensity to worry, to imagine the worst of all scenario and fixate on it. He fights this. Four years of University study of world philosophy, two years of a religious flood as a missionary in England and Wales; all this gave categories for his worries, but did not take them away. Few people know his thoughts. Even he does not know all of them. They play as background to the music in his headphones. But they are always there. It is what makes him look in the rear view mirror when he backs out; what keeps his children in his peripheral vision when they are at the beach; what makes him stop to see Gram even when he’s worn out tired. They make him a poet and an artist and they make his guitar strings ring. I would take those deep thoughts away to give him rest, but the music is just so beautiful.


  1. geez Cori, I don't even know what to say, so I'll say something lame to contrast your brilliance.... That was awesome!

  2. you made me cry with this one. love you and your ability to really see others. it is a gift. as for johnny- i am so glad i get to be the love of his life.

  3. Beautiful words, beautiful family inside and out.

  4. I'll bet no one see these qualities in John but you, at least as clearly.

  5. Yes. Hurry without innocence. Wonderful. Like you flicked the rim of a crystal glass. I don't know your son, but I know that I can climb down inside the mold you just made and feel quite at home. But don't despair - one thing I have learned is that you can make it through the blows to the innocence without every quite losing it, and grow up and bring it out and blow it back up, and run around in the wind with it, this time letting the un-pre-meditated odd juxtapositions of innocent perspective come flying out of your mouth once more - this time knowing the possibility of chuckles behind the hand, and not giving a fig for it.

    But then, you're a songwriter. You know this.