It happens more than you’re willing to admit. That moment when your child speaks, and you want to shove the words right back into his innocent little face. That sliver of time when you turn into a lioness with a bloody carcass sliding from her maw, ready for the next kill as you look at the other lions to see if they noticed your cub chasing a white winged butterfly instead of hunting like the others. You get defensive and embarrassed and, let’s face it, a little insane because you do not want to be the mom whose kid has so openly broken the rules.
You question everything. Clearly you are not capable of making decisions for another human being, especially one as vulnerable as this. And for a very brief moment, you consider what it would take to make your little one belong here.
Only he is looking at you with his big beautiful eyes, and he is twirling his scarf mindlessly in front of him, the same scarf that’s seen so much twirling action it’s misshapen now and more of a dirt color than the teal it used to be, knotted and twisted into a vine that spins through the air in random patterns you do not understand. And he is humming a song you do not know because even his thoughts are filled with the consistent patterns of song, and he dances a little when he thinks no one is watching. And he knows more about space than his teachers, every one of them, and he taught himself to read before he learned to ride a tricycle, and he holds so much in those tender little bones that he must surely be filled with it, overflowing with all the knowledge and music and passion and feeling and stars and light that he carries around inside.
So you smile, and you hold him in your arms, soaking in all that he is, and you speak only the truth, even if the world cannot see it. You tell him he is special. You tell him he is rare. You teach him to appreciate his eccentricities, and you follow him out into the wild where he shows you how to catch a butterfly. He teaches you to hold the world and the sun and the moon and the stars in the lines of your hands. He teaches you to weep when you’re so full of song it has to come pouring out your eyes. He teaches you to love with all your heart, to laugh into the vacuum of the stars.
Then one day, he will come to you. There will be tears painting his cheeks. He will be looking out into the field of lions making their first kill. He will want it and hate it all in the same sigh. He will not understand.
It will be you that teaches him. It will be you that takes his hand, you that sways to the music thrumming from his heart. It will be you that shows him there are better things, bigger things in the pieces of his soul. He will smile a tear-stained, sniffling smile before he stretches his arms into the air. No longer a child, not even a cub. He’s become one of the stars, swaying and humming and giving his light so that down below you might just catch the sight of a butterfly as it lands in the grasses nearby.