Kid thoughts

A child’s consciousness can be wilder than an April snowstorm, so sudden, so immense. Sometimes a child’s thought is awkward, even clumsy, lurching from one place to another without finding its balance, but one can rarely call it vague: it is frequently clear and precise, reaching for its own limits and then questioning them, moving in a determinate way from one point to the next, refusing to take much for granted. It feels feelings and its clarity is brash; it feels unashamed of its feelings, it tends not to mix them all together. In this, it is the opposite of my perennial state of muddled ambivalence. Whenever I think a kid’s thoughts are stuck, I’m always wrong eventually. When a river seems to vanish, the water keeps running through the ground, suddenly reappearing as if from nowhere. This week, as if out of nowhere, Claude was easily able to multiply 1024 by 2, and he asks questions about the meaning of divorce and love, and explains what nonbinary people are to his friends.

Even so, this kind of consciousness remains aggressive, demanding, one-sided. Everyone in my family is very stubborn, which I love. But our kids’ rage is hard to be around. Rage is a state of unfinished consciousness, an unanswered question. Claude got annoyed today about something and went inside in a fury. Faye, still outside, really wanted to play with him, and burst into tears. We coaxed Claude into coming back.

Everything is changing, but so slowly, and we cling to our rhythms, our illusion of timelessness that helps us compensate for the extreme volatility of this space. All these scenes are so lovable and so fleeting, and I know they’re destined to become past, or even forgotten, and I’m still trying to make things seem as solid as they can.

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