Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
Drawn To The Light
by Suzanne R. Thurman
Our son, Charlie, is 10 months old. Like most babies, he is fascinated by light. He is entranced by the candles the acolytes carry as they process down the aisle on Sundays and intrigued by the overhead light in the car. He stares at the chandelier over our dining room table while he eats, and once he even pointed to it and said light or something close to it. He loves light, radiant and luminous, drawn to it, I suppose, by its ethereal quality.
Now that the Christmas season is here, his first one, he is surrounded by even more light than usual—tree lights, shiny ornaments, and of course, toys. Some of our friends gave him an early present, a Graco "Entertainer," which is a wonderful contraption with a swivel seat and a plastic tray full of toys attached to a saucer-shaped base. We found it sitting on our back doorstep one afternoon when we came home from the grocery.
As soon as we lowered Charlie into the seat, we realized that the toy lived up to its name. Our son went wild. He couldn't decide what to play with first, the pillowy star on a squiggly green stick, the orange fish with a tail that crackled, the baby-sized mirror, or the star that blinked and played an electric version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" each time someone pushed it. He seemed to gravitate toward the star and discovered its secret by accident while flailing his arms in excitement. Soon, he knew how to make music. Over and over he whacked the star, and over and over its tinny melody filled the air.
It was an annoying sound to our adult ears, but we put up with it for Charlie's sake, and eventually he tired of the noise. At one point, after he had launched yet another verse, we looked at him between bites of our dinner and found him sitting quite still, a look of distress on his face, hands over his ears. He knew how to start the music, but he didn't know how to make it stop. Because you can't stop it. Once the song starts, it has to play through to the end. The only way to stop the music is to stop hitting the star. But our son can't do that, can't restrain his hand from reaching for the mystery that lies just beyond his fingertips. The glittery nebula is too inviting, and he is too young to understand that desire cannot always be satisfied.
Suzanne R. Thurman wrote this piece about her first son, who is now 2. In between diaper changes and chasing her very active children, she is working on an essay about her second son, who just turned 1. Her work has appeared in many magazines, most recently Poem, Aries, and The Square Table. She lives in Florence, Alabama.
Back to Flashes