I'm in the kitchen with my four year-old trying to find a moment to unload the dishes. He wants to write in a notebook with a pen, and I have the idea to give him a checklist with boxes he can mark off after completing each task. I set him up at his little green table with last night's modeling clay still on it. The task list is the following:
- Write an E
- Draw triangles around the holes in the paper
- Make a vehicle out of clay
- Make a ramp out of clay
(But with check boxes.) He decides to draw a "three-wheeled mouse seater," narrating as he works. He adds a tarantula. He writes an E that doubles as a tarantula web. He models a moon rover out of clay. He models a ramp. He tells me that he can't make triangles and draws squares around the holes. He makes a clay snake named Fern-- a woman snake-- and he makes Fern's baby, Fernafalla Fellini Foo. (I experience momentary terror, certain that school will kill his spirit.)
I pause in what I'm doing and lean against the counter, looking at a book of poems by Kay Ryan. "Listen to this," I say. "This poem is called 'The Fourth Wise Man.' " I read the first few lines:
The fourth wise man
disliked travel. If
you walk, there's the
gravel. If you ride,
there's the camel's attitude.
He interrupts to say, "What if the fourth wise man accidentally got on a plane? What if he or she accidentally landed in Africa?" I say, "You mean, and accidentally met Jesus?" (I explain that Jesus was in the Middle East.) He knows about the three wise persons from Ramona and Her Father. At the Christmas pageant, Ramona is a sheep and the three wise men are played by older girls who take over after the boys drop out, making the roles their own. In fact, he knows about Jesus from Ramona, too. I tell him then that people still talk about Jesus because they liked what he said about peace and love. My son says, "I don't like him. I like to be loud." I say he can make a "joyful noise unto the Lord." (Also via Ramona, who makes "a joyful noise until the Lord.") He makes a fanfare noise. He tells me he loves everyone he knows, and everyone on the whole earth, and that he even loves aliens. He asks me if Jesus is dead. He asks if the people who buried Jesus are dead.
Saturday morning, I tell
my son about the rock rolled away
from the tomb. He looks at me.