R started school this year. Just a few weeks went by but he’s already devouring (mostly unconsciously) whatever is being thrown at him. He scribbles away in his notebooks and is bragging when he’s happy with the results.
“Did you see my 2? Did you see it? I know how to write that. It’s easy, you do it like this…”, he’d say and would wave his hand, index finger stretched out, following the contour of a perfectly hand-drawn 2.
And he reads. Walking through the city he’d stop and shout:
“Look! Haus des Meeres! That’s what’s written there! Haus des Meers! Right?”
“And here: Billa. Here’s Billa!”
Letter by letter he’s getting in, inside this incredible world of the written words, of texts and of stories. It gives me so much joy to see him startle whenever he can figure something out by himself. To almost hear his whole being laughing and wanting more.
There was a short video making the rounds on twitter a while back. In it, you could see a man, somewhere around 45 or 50, on the stairs leading to the front porch of his house. He’s got a pair of black shorts on and a polo shirt, and he’s waiting for his family to finish singing the usual happy birthday song to him. He looks a bit blasé, as if anticipating only the moment when they’ll get over with it and he would be allowed to go back in and have a slice of cake. Hands in his pockets, nodding politely but not even remotely excited. When they’re done, he thanks them and he’s handed a present - a little box. He’s begged to open it, which he skeptically does. Inside, a pair of glasses. He’s encouraged to put them on: they look like normal sun glasses. And he does. And then… Well… All the unintended lack of interest disappears in a heartbeat. He looks around and slowly a big, wide smile takes over his face. He turns his head left and then right, his hands stretched along his body, he spreads out his fingers and spasmodically brings them together into a fist. Then he spreads them out again, then does the fist again. He almost laughs. He cannot stop looking. He lifts the glasses, puts them back on. He lifts them again, puts them back on. His smile could bring a hitman to tears. He’s fidgeting and rubbing his hands and cannot stop looking at the world. You see, the glasses he has just put on polarize the light in a different way and enhance the colors of the world and those of us who are color blind, who could not really tell red and green from each other, are given the chance to see what’s around them in a bit of color. Not much, but for someone who never saw any of it their entire life, it’s mind blowing.
I saw the clip together with R and the happiness of the middle-aged man on the stairs of his front porch was so powerful that he could not stop grinning, he could not stop wanting to be himself part of it too. Now, at Billa, after he read the big yellow letters of the supermarket chain, proud and satisfied, I told him:
“Do you remember the video? You see, from now on, you’ve got your glasses on, my son. Welcome to the world of words, of books and stories! Hope you’ll have a blast!”
He looked at me in awe.
I’m sure he will.