By Laura Moore

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Sometimes it's really hard to be positive.

I've not only made it my resolution pretty much every year of my life, but I've tried to make it my mission, my mantra, my battle cry.

When I feel negative energy building inside of me. I force myself to step back. I force myself to sit down. I force myself to breathe. 

And then I run my mind through all of the reasons I should be thankful. I think about all of the people who are enduring far worse things than I am. I think about how lucky I am in the grand scheme of grand schemes. 

I grit my teeth. I make myself smile. I force myself to keep on keeping on.

It's not a big deal, I say: deal with it. Lots of people get sick. Lots of people are taking care of sick babies. Lots of people have bad skids, but it will all pass. At least nothing is serious. You will all be able to move on. You have problems with a light at the end. 

Some people would give anything to have that. 

So accept the help your family offers, eat your chicken noodle soup and cuddle your baby. Take your medicine, make the most of the sleep you do get, and look toward the light. It's there even if you are too frustrated to see it. 

 
 

By Laura Moore

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I underestimated our dog.

As an anxious ball of fluff, he scared the living daylights out of me in the weeks leading up to Z's birth. 

If anyone got within 10 yards of either me or my husband, he scowled and barked and asserted his vocal dominance (while his legs quivered beneath him like a cowering child). He went after small dogs with fury, yanked our arms out of socket when he saw scooters or bicycles, and raised his ears in high alert every time we left the house.

Inside, he was perfect. Over the course of his life, he chewed the foot of one rubber shoe....and that's it. He was house trained in a week and other than a few stomach bugs, he hasn't had any accidents since. He doesn't fish through the trash even if we accidentally leave the cupboard open or the bag against the door. He rarely jumps on us and as long as our friends pet him and acknowledge him, he's happy to open up and share his home. 

Outside, however, everything crumbles and he turns into a mound of panic. Outside, he jumps at squirrels, at other dogs, at scooters, at the sound of a puck smashing against the roller hockey walls in the park. We spent months worrying about this, nights wondering how he'd handle a baby, wondering what he'd do when we brought home a living being that cried and crawled and banged things together in ways much more aggressive than anything he had ever seen. 

To be safe, we hired a dog trainer and Finn underwent months of hard work. We tested him and directed him. We worked on walking and we established hardcore commands. We got a fake baby and we practiced extended stays. When Z was finally born, Finn was as ready as he was going to be, and the moment we came home from the hospital--the moment our family of three turned into a family of four--I swear our little dog's light started to shine.

It was a faint glow at first. He smelled him and licked him. He stared at him for hours. He held his bladder patiently until I was free enough to emerge from a feeding session and let him outside. He guarded Z's door. He didn't complain when his food bowl was filled an hour or two later than normal or when his walks were cut short. When Z was old enough to control his hands and reached out to grab Finn's tongue, Finn didn't move. I nearly had a heart attack right there, but Finn just took it, backing away slowly without lowering his jaws. 

Over the last twelve months, he's lets Z pull his fur and lay his head against him in ways he doesn't tolerate with anyone else. He doesn't get mad when the little guy sneaks off and sticks his fingers in his water bowl or plays with his food. He watches Z take his bones and his Kong and even though J and I are sure it drives him insane, Finn doesn't fight him one bit when he does it. He jumps off the ottoman when Z wants to hold on, and when our little baby first started to crawl, Finn jumped into high alert. 

The first few times he saw him approaching the step between our kitchen and family room, Finn ran out in front and blocked the way. Once he stopped Z's progress, he proceeded to cry until I acknowledged him, until I ran over and devoted my full attention to the baby as he belly scooted over the step and down to the family room floor. I was watching all along, of course, and knew that Z had about 30 seconds before I had to run from the stove to the step, but the fact my dog's instinct was to protect him made my heart smile. The fact he continued to do it, made my heart burst. 

Last week, when Z was sick, Finn surprised us yet again. While my husband and I were busy holding Z's hands and squirting medicine into his mouth, Finn vigorously licked his toes for a good 60 seconds. When he realized the toe licking wasn't quelling the tears, he got up and ran into the family room where he found the only thing he could think to give. Dislodging his grimy red Kong from the bowels of his favorite chair--the same red Kong Z had persistently tried to steal for the last three months and J and I had persistently taken away from him--Finn tucked it into his mouth, carried it into the kitchen, and dropped it down at our son's tiny feet. 

My husband and I looked at each other and I swear something inside us both melted. We couldn't even bring ourselves to take it away. We couldn't bring ourselves to return it to Finn's mouth. We couldn't even bring ourselves to wash Z's hands. Our hearts were too full to move. 

Even though it is easy to get caught up in all of the changes our one-year old is enduring, it's about time I give our dog a little credit. It's about time I own up to the very real fact that I underestimated him. 

Worried about his anxiety and imperfections, I neglected to honor his strengths. I neglected to consider his heart. I neglected to acknowledge just how beautiful of a creature he was beneath his huge bark and quivering legs. I sold him short in those first few months, but today, I'm calling him out. 

Today, I'm saying thank you. 

While much of last year belonged to little Z, today, Finn...today belongs to you and all of the others out there who have been taken for granted.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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I love birthdays.  

I'm going to throw that out on the table right now. 

For a good many years, I celebrated my birthday for no less than a week, going to dinner with my family on one night and then meeting up with friends during all of the other nights. I scheduled trips to Boston, New York and Miami for the big birthday years and on the smaller birthday years, I filled my evenings with dinners and dancing and shows.

The first year my husband and I started dating, I looked forward to my big day for an entire month. As the plans trickled in, I updated him each time we spoke.

"We're going to dinner with my parents and my brother this night," I said, "and then Megan is getting people together on this night and then Anna might come down for the weekend, but she won't be here Friday, so we don't have anything on Friday," I remember saying, baiting him, hoping he'd jump in and ask me to do something with him. But instead, he said it all sounded good and that he was looking forward to it. Then he moved on to the next thing.

That Thursday, I finally decided to flat out ask him if he wanted to go to dinner on Friday. He was happy to go, of course, but I pouted the entire evening: throughout dinner and all the way back to my patio. In an effort to fill an awkward silence that enveloped us as we sat outside and watched people hobble through the Short North, J started talking about throwing a birthday party for his best friend. The minute he uttered those words, I burst into tears, the only tears I have ever shed on account of him. 

"What's wrong?" he asked, baffled, as if he zoned out during the tragic scene in a movie and tuned back in to see an aftermath that made no sense.

Through my tears, I proceeded to explain how much I love my birthday, and how hurt I was that he was so focused on his best friend's birthday that he didn't even mention mine.  

"I was hoping we could hang out one of these nights," I said indignantly. "People kept calling to schedule things and I kept put them off as long as I could to save time for you, but you never asked. I had to ask you out for my birthday."

"You kept telling me how busy you were. You mentioned something almost every night so I figured you just wanted to go out with a group. I didn't think you wanted dinner with just me," he said, and he genuinely felt terrible. 

So did I. 

Before he explained himself, I didn't think for one minute about how my flurry of plans would sound to him. I figured that the more I told him, the more he'd feel pressure to ask, to schedule, to get something into the books before all the dates were full. But he just figured I wanted a lot of loud nights filled with festivities and cake.

For the next thirty minutes, we got it all out on the table, which--if I'm being honest--means I babbled and bubbled and managed to pour out a bucket of emotion regarding my  adoration of birthdays. "It's the one day a year that belongs to me, just me," I remember saying, "and with each passing year, I think about all of the changes and moments that happened, and each time I meet up with the people I care about, each time I blow out those candles, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be alive with people I love so much." 

From that day forward, J bent over backwards to remember my birthday. And knowing how much tiny moments meant to me, he also bent over backwards for anniversaries and our engagement and for other moments, other bends of the road, that proved to me time and time again that he cared, that he would be there for the milestones, that he was and would always be present for each reminder we got that life was beautiful. 

And now, five years after my birthday meltdown, he and I will be sitting in front of a cake lit with candles that belong to neither of us and both of us all at once. In a few days, we will be sitting with our family, celebrating a milestone filled with more emotion than I know how to untangle right now. In a few days, our son will turn one, and for the first time in his entire life, he will have earned an age in years rather than days or weeks or months.

"So how are you feeling about his first birthday?" people keep asking me. "Are you sad or excited?"

"I don't know," I keep saying back, and I don't.

"Some of the girls in my mom group have talked about crying for days and I feel a little guilty because I haven't wanted to cry. I probably feel more excited that we all made it, but part of me is also in shock. I can't believe we're here, that he's actually growing and learning and becoming this awesome human being. It's kind of overwhelming when I think about it."

The person invariably smiles and asks about the decorations.

"He loves flying and his favorite color is blue," I say, explaining the details of the birthday banner my mother is stitching together, the airplane pigs in a blanket I'll be making the morning of the party, the "in flight" goodie bags my mother-in-law is putting together, and the airplane cake my mom and I will bake and ice and decorate on Thursday evening.

The conversation twirls away after that, down other roads laced with comments about the weather and the news and The Ohio State Buckeyes winning the national championship, but my mind stays fixed on airplanes, on my little guy, on my tiny bundle of energy, joy and wonder who grew inside my belly for ten months and then came roaring onto the scene by surprise. The boy who picked a date no one expected, and then owned it like a champion pressing through the finish line in record time, yelling and glowing like an angel, giving us the best surprise a year of waiting could ever produce.

My mind stays fixed on a flurry of indecipherable emotion and anticipation. I look at pictures and I can hardly recognize him in those first few days when his eyes were swollen slits tucked between two plump cheeks, and his sweet mouth pinched together into perfect little arcs across his face. As I flip through screens of pictures, and days give way to new days, his smile blossoms through the lens and I can see him there, his personality emerging, his sense of self growing like his arms and his legs and his head. With each passing picture, I see more of him: lifting up, rolling, sitting, standing, walking, shaking his hands and squealing with unbounded joy. 

One year. 

He will be one year old. 

He will have an entire twelve months behind him, 365 days of working on milestones, 525,600 minutes of becoming him

In a few short days, he will have arrived at HIS day--the day that belongs to him and only him--although for some reason, it feels like it also belongs to us. And as I stop to think of it, as I reflect back and relish his growth and take pure pleasure in all of the possibilities that await him, I realize I've been wrong about birthdays all along.

"It's the one day a year that belongs to me, just me," I said to my husband in the midst of my meltdown.

But those words weren't really true. 

Now that I have little Z, I realize that my birthday was never just my day. My birthday belonged to my parents who dreamt of me, who gave birth to me, who nourished me, who nurtured me, who guided me along. My birthday belonged to each of the people I wanted to see, each person around the table who held me up and filled me up. It belonged to the  people who mattered, the people who were there, year after year, the people who loved me even when I wasn't old enough to love them back.

And maybe that was why I loved my birthday so much. Maybe all along, it had nothing to do with the day being mine.

The moment I realized that, I felt some of the fog lift. And it didn't make me sad--it didn't make me feel like my day was any less special--it made me feel full, complete, like I was an essential cog inside a really special wheel. 

It made me feel...loved.

And so while I still don't know how to untangle my emotions about my son's first birthday, I do know one thing. When he sits in front of his cake, even if he doesn't have a clue why we're all cheering for him and kissing him and showering him with balloons and treats, I want him to feel as full as I feel right now. I want him to feel loved, to feel like he makes us complete...because he does.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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On Saturday, when I slipped my left foot through the leg hole of my favorite jeans--jeans I had declared to be My Favorite Jeans almost twelve years ago--a big fat metaphor burst through thin air (or through the surface of what was once thick jeans depending on how you want to look at it).

Before I could even process what had happened, my attempt to mindlessly dip my feet into my very favorite pair of jeans had resulted in five wiggling toes caught in a loom of threads, peaking out from broken fabric, stuck in a hole that didn't exist moments before.

Nooooooooo

I yelled in a panic.

Crap, crap, crap. Noooooooo! 

My mind raced, as I tried to figure out how to undo the last thirty seconds, but no amount of panic, no amount of wishing, no amount of anything was going to change what had just happened. After spending the last four months crawling around on the floor with my spit-fire son, my son who is here and then there in a flash of an eye, my son who is curious about anything, who notices everything, who wants to be everywhere all at once, I had worn out my very favorite jeans, jeans that had traveled to Brazil, to Mexico, to the Dominican Republic, to New York City, to Italy, to England, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, to Miami....to...I could go on and on and on.

Those jeans outlived heartbreak. They comforted me when I switched careers. They gave me confidence during graduate exams. They were on my body the night I met my husband, and they smoothed and shaped and jolted me with a sense of you got this when I finally buttoned them over my mommy body in the months after I had our first child.

They were my jeans. My. Freaking. Awesome. Jeans. And it didn't matter that they weren't skinny-leg-in-style sort of jeans. Or what ever the newest, latest, hottest jean brand is right now (which I couldn't even name if I wanted to). Those jeans made me feel like a million dollars because they made me feel like me. 

I steadied my breath as I dislodged my foot from the hole, as I pulled my toes from the white slivers that now covered the left knee, as I removed myself from the loose grip of fabric, as I dropped my jeans into a heap, and pulled my sleeve up to my face so I could soak up the silly, little tears that were beading up along the edge of my eyes. 

Damaged, torn, ruined.

I turned back to my closet, leaving my jeans there in a pile, spread out across the floor, and I reached up and took a less desirable pair from the shelf. These will have to do, I thought, pulling them on, knowing full well I couldn't justify spending money on a pair of form fitting designer jeans right now...not when we had a baby, not when I was taking the year off of work, not when it truly didn't matter what kind of pants I was choosing to wear each day.

Once I got dressed, I exited the closet and stepped over what was left of My Favorite Jeans, looking at them one more time before I folded them up, before I put them back on the shelf, before I forced myself to let it go. And when I looked at them that second time, I caught myself thinking about all of the moments that wore down those threads. I caught myself thinking about all of the moments I spent playing with my son. Moments filled with following him across his planet, loving him and laughing with him. Moments that made me the new me, the mommy me, the me with torn knees and messy ponytails. The me who would do anything to make that little guy laugh. 

I unbuttoned my imposter pants and cast them aside. Then I leaned down and scooped up my broken treasure. I carefully dropped my feet down each of the holes and wiggled my body into place, feeling the familiar hug of fabric wrapping around my skin. I punched the button through the hole, I pulled up the zipper and I ran my palms down the front. 

People pay a good fortune to have jeans worn like this, I thought and you got yours the old fashioned way. Sure, they look different than they did when you bought them, but the changes came because they lived, really lived, down-on-the-ground-laughing-and-chasing sort of lived.  

I turned around in the mirror and drew in a breath. They still feel so good and so snug and so comfortable, I thought. They still smooth me and shape me and jolt me. They still whisper--no matter how many bumps and bruises they've had--"You got this," loud and clear in my ear. 

I took in another breath. "You got this," they said again, and even if I doubt it sometimes, even if I, myself, feel worn and tired just like the jeans, even if I feel like I'm hanging by a thread, on that day, in those pants, I actually felt like I could nod my head. I actually felt like I could answer, and so I did. I do have it, I said right into the mirror. I really think I do.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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For the last four weeks, I've been busy creating my own world: carefully crafting characters, civically engineering neighborhoods and inventing all sorts of problems for my lovely young adults to solve.

I spent roughly 240 hours (probably more, but I rounded down) over the course of a month, swirling around in the clouds of my imagination, running my fingers through thoughts as if they were sculpting clay, turning them into sentences and paragraphs and metaphors in an effort to make something that would get my high school kids to think and talk about big things, things they've inspired me to write about, things like life and death, things like dealing with the pressure to succeed, things like being too scared to step out of boxes, things like seeing the value of slowing down, of realizing there is no finish line in life where the challenges go away and everything suddenly gets easier. 

The process was awesome. 
And hard.
And painful. 
And rewarding. 
And disappointing. 
And inspiring. 

It was all of those things because the journey mimics life. The journey to create anything is about hope and then confidence and then doubt and then fear and then confidence and then hope all over again. 

Sometimes the path is clear and easy and the weather is perfect; at other times, the storm clouds cluster the moment you hit the steepest part of the mountain. And as easy as it would have been to turn back and hide under the cover of shelter, I couldn't pull myself away from the challenge. I couldn't rightfully give up because deep down I knew that trudging through the mud and testing my grip was all part of the experience if I wanted to understand what I was made of.

And so I kept going.

For the first four days it was sunshine and rainbows. My fingers danced. My ideas were pouring out just like they appeared in my head, and because of that, despite hearing expert advice to the contrary, I felt like I had ample time to edit as well as write. In fact, I started each day by editing the previous day's writing. Then, several hours later, once I felt good about what I had, I launched into the new stuff. 

My first draft is going to be polished, I said to myself each day as I went down for my third cup of coffee. 

But then, on day five, the editing demon (and a massive headache) swarmed my body, and I found myself paralyzed with panic. Despite earlier editing efforts that added words to the word count, on that day, my three hours of revision cut out almost 320 words, which, unfortunately, meant that I now had to write 2,720 words rather than 2,400, and I had three fewer hours to do it. 

Upon realizing this, I pounded the heel of my hand to my forehead, and right then and there--in the wake of a self-inflicted headache--I vowed to shut down my compulsive desire to nit-pick, to edit, to revise, to fiddle and fiddle and fiddle until my words sounded good in my ears. While other writers suggested this action as a vital mechanism for success, until I squared up with just how hard it was to move with an inner critic holding my feet in the mud, I couldn't shut him down, I couldn't bear to see what I created without him looking over my shoulder. 

The minute I was at risk for failing my daily word count though, I knew that I had no choice: if I wanted to keep going, I had to rip off a strip of duct tape and slap it across his mouth. 

And so I did.

"If you keep making me turn back," I told him sternly, "we are never going to get anywhere."

He struggled briefly with my retaliation, but he ultimately acquiesced, deciding to give me a chance to prove myself, deciding to give me the chance to write, to move without handcuffs and a three ton weight strapped to my back.

He stayed silent for three days, and for three whole days my fingers lifted ideas from my brain without any care or worry in the world. For three whole days I moved the story forward and I enjoyed the ride my fingers took across the keyboard. I could see the storm clouds up ahead, I could smell the rain, and I could hear the thunder, but I didn't want to believe it; I just wanted to keep going--I just wanted to keep joyriding--until I couldn't go any further, until something physically made me stop.

Maybe it'll miss me,  I thought as the sky grew darker. But all along, I knew there was something brewing. All along, I knew it would eventually collapse on top of me. All along, I knew I would find myself beneath massive amounts of angry precipitation without any rain gear or shelter to dull the severity of the attack.

And just as my gut predicted, this happened on day ten.

When I sat down to write that Monday, my stomach churned the entire time my fingers pounded the keys. I kept going to see if I could fix the problem, but by the time I got to the end of my word count, I knew there was no fixing it. I hated what was happening to my characters. It didn't feel right, and even worse, the more I thought about the way my plot was unfolding, the more I realized the entire manuscript was headed toward the dreaded land of contrivedville (yes, I just made up that word).

I wanted to throw up. 

Literally. 

In fact, the night the storm clouds dumped pounds of hail on my head, I laid in bed staring at the back of my eyelids for a good four hours before the nausea made me get up and sprawl out on the bathroom floor.

I can't keep writing something so stupid, I told myself over and over. You're 15,000 words in and this is absolutely, pathetically dumb.

Twisting and turning my ideas, I grasped for straws, hoping to figure something out so I wouldn't have to abandon my project and start over, but my mind could not move past the negative voices.  I could not get the inner critic to shut up so the problem solver could swoop in and fix things. I could not stop doubt from swimming through my intestinal tract, jostling things up inside of me, and taunting me with his I-told-you-this-was-going-to-be-dumb mantra.

So I stared up at the bathroom vent and gritted my teeth.

Then our baby cried. 

Crap. Crap. Crap.

I rubbed my temples, picked up my body and made my way to his crib. I rocked him until he fell back to sleep and I lost myself in his sweet face. Ten minutes later, I leaned down to set him softly on the mattress, but the minute I let go, he woke up again and screamed. We tried the process twice more, and after the third melt down, I carried him back to the kitchen, prepared a bottle and decided to feed him. Six ounces later, he fell into such a deep sleep he didn't mind returning to the crib. 

It was now three o'clock in the morning. 

Now what? I thought, staring at the clock. Too frantic to sleep and too tired to write, I sifted through a pile of books beside my desk and picked up Anne Lamont. Two paragraphs in, everything clicked. I pulled out my journal, and let my mind do its thing. Jotting down a revised game plan, I made notes about how to fix what I had already written, what I needed to delete and where I needed to go next. As I wrote, the nausea faded, and once I captured my epiphany, I decided to sleep on it.

The next morning, I deleted almost 5,000 words, revised the ones that stayed, and then set out on my new course. That process eliminated 1/3 of the work I had done up to that point, but once I cut the excess, I could see the fog lifting and the problems untangling. Ideas began forming again and I let myself follow their lead. My work was venturing off of my original plan, but it was exciting to see where it went. The entire experience was sort of like an out of body movie unfolding before me, and sometimes the plot would make me gasp: Woah. I didn't know that was going to happen to HIM!  I'd say to myself, shocked. Or That's what she was trying to get him to see?

When I'd explain the developments to my husband, he'd always smile at my reports. "How are you surprising yourself?" he'd ask. "Aren't you the one making it up?"

"It's magic," I would say back to him, and in a totally nerdy sort of way, that's exactly what it felt like.

This magic continued through the end, even when I realized my book still had problems, even when I realized there were plot gaps and point of view issues and two characters that needed to be merged. And I think that magic continued simply because I allowed myself to accept the fact that what I was writing could be fixed later. I think it continued because I resigned myself to just keep going, to just keep plugging away, to just get out the story so I could figure out what I had to work with when I had the time to dig in my fingers and rework the clay. 

When I uploaded it to the word counter for validation, I felt good about my imperfect manuscript. It wasn't pretty, boxed up or "finished" in any sort of way that would make sense to another human being, but buried in mountains of prose that is sometimes beautiful and sometimes messy, lies the promise of an idea I brought to life, lies a world that I made, a world stuffed with questions and fears and hopes and dreams. And even if no one else sees it, that world will always be alive, that world will always change the way I see mine, that world will always be something that exists because somewhere along the line I silenced my inner doubter, my inner criticizer, my inner voice that says you can't do it, and I filled the silence with a heart that says, you can.

 
 

By Laura Moore

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At first, we couldn't figure out what he was doing. 

Each time we'd put him down, he'd flip onto his stomach regardless of how difficult it was to turn, which toys were in the way, or how impractical such an act might be in those precious seconds between diapers. And steadying himself on the outer-most part of his belly, he'd quickly locate his center of balance, lift his legs, and spread his arms.

"Are you swimming?" I would ask in ernest, trying my best to hop inside his six-month old brain and view the world through his eyes. Being the chatter he is, of course, he'd answer with a series of haas, ahhhs and baahs and a few high pitched yells for good measure.

"Ohhh, you're going to love swim lessons," I'd say to him in a friendly, high pitched voice. He'd smile his trademark smile in response--the one that turns my heart to melted butter--and then he'd return to his task: wobbling around like a top, his feet either clipping the foam arms of the Safari Gym, or catching the edge of my knee, or spinning around enough to cause him to collide face first into the broadside of our dog. 

This continued for a few days, but as I watched him closer, I began to doubt my initial read. His actions didn't really look like swimming anymore; they looked more like floating or scooting. Maybe this is just an early effort to learn how to crawl, I thought to myself. And I let it go. 

But later that evening, when my husband came home from work, I watched him pick up our baby boy and send him sailing through the kitchen. Up and down, weaving around in patterns, the little guy canvased the air with his arms outstretched, his legs arched, his mouth agape and his eyes peeled wide.  And seeing him like that--seeing him actively engaged in flight--I realized exactly what he was trying to do all of those minutes on the ground: he was trying to fly.

Day in and day out, he keeps trying: working up a sweat, ignoring his other toys, holding up his body like Superman.  And despite any obstacle in his way, the entire time he endeavors to lift his body, he maintains unflappable focus: pinching his lips, slanting his eyes, bracing himself for the moment when the earth will inevitably fall beneath him, and he will rise up and sail through the air like a seagull skimming the ridge of the sky. He wills his flight with everything he has in the deepest boughs of his imagination, and I have grown drunk drinking in every possible moment of his beautifully pure determination to make the impossible happen.

He falls asleep with his wings outstretched, he sends them outward the moment he wakes up, and I have no doubt he uses them throughout the entirety of his dreams. Every night when his father comes home and lifts him up, he emanates a sort of joy I have never before seen in anyone: squeals fill the room, drool pools on the floor and his eyeballs push through the slits in his face. 

"One, two," my husband begins, and our little guy spreads his arms. His entire body rises with a nearly transcendental jolt of anticipation, and his unwavering faith is virtually palpable, a faith that trusts the number three will send him up high, where the air breaks across his face, and tickles his tummy, as he climbs and falls, and climbs and falls through every corridor of our house.

As soon as he comes back down to the floor, he wobbles on his belly again: holding his arms parallel to the ground, lifting his chest with every ounce energy bustling in his body. When that doesn't work, he tries to stretch his neck upward, straightening his arms and turning his eyes to the ceiling. Still grounded, he falls downward again, arching his back, lifting his legs, sending his arms out, this time, at right angles. And when that, too, fails to lift him from the floor, he begins moving his wings up and down just enough to spin into a spiraling whirl.  This goes on and on until one of us picks him up and rockets him through the air. 

It never gets old, and he never stops believing.

Each time I watch him, I yearn to capture his joy. I wish I could tap into his vivid imagination. I wish I could siphon out just a small bit of his innocence and pour it into jars, so that when he gets older, and the practical word edges it out of him, we will still have some saved up in the cupboard, we will still be able to make him squeal with delight, to push out the rest of the world so he can revel in the sheer ecstasy of small pleasures. 

I wish I had those jars, so even when he realizes he can't lift himself off of the ground--even when he knows it is impossible for his arms to send him flying around the world--he might still have enough innocence to believe in magic, enough innocence to keep trying regardless of how high the sky might seem, enough innocence to know, deep within him, that he does possess the strength to rise.