Wil has a karaoke machine in the basement. He flips the “on” switch, dials up the flashing lights, but the microphone remains in its clip. He cannot be tethered by such things.
Every single day, be it a weekend morning or a weekday after school, Wil inserts a Luke Bryan CD in the karaoke machine or cranks up country songs directly from his iPad — the use of the iPad does not exclude the need for karaoke lights. (Currently his favorite starter song is “Buy Dirt,” by Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan.) He’ll then grab the handrail of his mini-trampoline and drag it across the carpet. He lines it up directly in front of the karaoke machine and hits play. He then gets to jumping and singing full blast. This can go on for hours.
If Wil comes across a song he likes but doesn’t know all the lyrics to, he’ll replay a verse over and over until he memorizes it. Then he’ll do the same with the next verse. And the next. Wil knows the full lyrics to over 100 country songs. Without Google.
When he’s tired, he’ll say, “Phew!” Then stomp up the stairs and walk out to the back porch. He’ll take a seat on the slider and rock back and forth. A breeze will brush the side of his cheek. He’ll tilt his head up and say, “Ahhhh.” He may notice a looping bumble bee, the shrill of a hawk, or grazing deer in our back field. These are not new experiences where we live, but Wil expresses his excitement each time as if they were. “Listen, Mom.” “Mom, look!” “Deer, Mom!”
Wil is frequently the last one at the dinner table. Katherine and Elizabeth typically set up their homework on the kitchen island. I’ll linger at the table with Wil or clean up in the kitchen. Last night after dinner, as I washed dishes, Elizabeth stayed at the table and talked to me about her AP Literature class.
“We are reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’” Elizabeth said. “Do you want me to read you a chapter? You spent so many years reading to us. Now I’ll read to you, Mom.”
I sat down next to Elizabeth as she read to me, and Wil finished his dinner. I was transported back to simpler times.
When Wil was born I worried on all the challenges. The learning curve was high. Like Wil, I replayed new verses over and over again to absorb them. In that I also absorbed something you can’t know through Google. The soul within the verse.
It is the challenges that shed a light on the soul of the simplicities. It’s like Wil flipped the “on” switch in my life, and the lights have never stopped flashing no matter what medium they illuminate. I’m reminded of the aerodynamic beauty of a bumblebee loop; how the shrill of a hawk cuts through the blue sky; I’m newly refreshed by a breeze across my cheek. Now I’m brought back to the joy of being read to — by my own daughter. I could listen for hours.