My son was “Hawk of the Day” at school last week, which meant he got to put all his favorite things in the display case in the front of the building, so that everyone who walked by could see them. Luke spent two days designing his personal exhibit. He had the typical 8-year-old-boy things: lego game, knight and dragon, alien police station with enormous robot. But he also had things that show his heart: the photo of his baby sister that he pointed out to people with pride, the silly-face photo of his daddy and him that shows where he got his big personality, his chipmunk and puppy dog stuffed animals. I love that these made the cut. That my boy is still a boy and young enough to fill up his side of the glass case with pride, with selectivity based on what he likes best. Each year it’s fun to see which things he’ll choose to represent himself to his friends and the world. And it makes me think, if there were an adult version, what would be in my display?
Photos of my family, of course. Those are really my most treasured “things.” In going through the 42,280 photos we have on the computer (that is not a typo. Being married to a video guy means LOTS of pictures), to make the annual calendars for Christmas gifts, it struck me how much I’ve forgotten about what was just a few years ago. Photos of Lily and Luke when they were babies brought back memories that were tucked away in the files of my brain, forgotten if not for the pictures that sparked remembrance. Marc with long hair, me with a pregnant belly, Marc and I on a walk with our dog before kids. Pictures tell the story of life when words can’t – they would definitely be in my lineup .
For his book the other night, Luke chose his Mommy Journal, the book in which I not-so-faithfully recorded the happenings of his first few years of life. I read the story of his birth, the anecdotes of his first outing, his first words, his first plane flight during which he yelled the entire way. One entry described Marc’s first Father’s Day when we lived in L.A. – how we went to Zankou Chicken for lunch, then got bobas and sat in the park listening to live jazz with our new baby boy. I remember that now, but I’d forgotten until I read about it. These books are a treasure to me; they tell the story of my kids, and my past, with my own words. Though they might not be interesting to look at, I would put my Mommy Journals in there.
If I could have a multi-media set-up I’d loop videos of favorite movie clips, stopping intermittently to play a soundtrack of songs I love. The “O Captain My Captain” scene from Dead Poet’s Society, the dinner party from Chocolat, any part of Out of Africa – they represent me just as Luke’s legos represent him. My favorite songs explain me in ways an hour’s worth of verbal description couldn’t. Throw in a few of my favorite books, a printed out poem or two, and my new orange slippers and my display would be complete. Me, summarized in a glass case. I like the simplicity of it. The this-is-all-the-space-you-get-so-you’ve-got-to-edit-yourself factor. It’s a good exercise to do from time to time.
Maybe when Luke is “Hawk of the Day” again next year I’ll do another mental edit of myself, picking and choosing what I would include in the “this is me” showcase. I’m sure many things would stay the same, but some might change. I know most of Luke’s will, since the difference between almost-eight and almost-nine is like a decade in grown-up years. Hopefully, though, he’ll still let the world see his sweet heart. Chipmunk and Woof-Woof may be absent, but maybe his family will still be included. No matter, it will be fun, yet again, to see what my son chooses to show the world about who he is. And to do a little self-evaluation along with him.