"Mommy, Baachan and Jichan will come back tomorrow, and we will all go to the playground together." We've just left my parents off at the airport; they are making the journey back to San Francisco after a week visiting us and shuttling my nearly three year old daughter around Brooklyn. She calls them by the japanese name for grandmother and grandfather. "Oh, honey," I say, "Baachan and Jichan will be back soon, but not tomorrow." "They will! Tomorrow they will come." And she leaves it at that, nodding to herself. It dawns on me: she is wishing, or more than wishing — longing — something that I haven't noticed her doing before.
I've found that one of the most unexpected things about having a child is that it brings back so vividly my experience of being a child. Though she is still so young that there have been just hints and glimmers of her inner life, through my daughter, I am starting to remember how I lived seamlessly gliding between reality and fantasy for much of my day, every day. There was the strong conviction, even though I logically knew it not to be true, that if I hoped for something with my eyes shut tight enough or felt longing strongly enough, the impossible would somehow become possible. The possibilities, as the saying goes, were endless, unconstrained by logic or physics. I could reverse time, my orthodontist would decide to override my mother's wishes and give me hot pink braces, my little plastic figurines would really spring to life at night and carry on a life of their own. My hermit crab, Zeus (yes, I was that child), would decide to crawl back into his mighty shell rather than apathetically dragging his nubby stub of a body around in little circles, a hint at the surrender he was planning. My parents would finally agree that the our new puppy, who at that point had been responsible for the destruction of not less than sixty percent of the flooring in our house, was lonely and wanted a litter of friends to play with. I hoped for smaller things, too (ants on a log, a sunny day to go to the zoo), but it was as if the things that I knew I couldn't control, and perhaps more importantly, likely wouldn't get were the things for which I felt compelled to hope with the most conviction.
Though I hope for many things as my life moves forward, I don't hope anymore with the same conviction that I did as a child. I don't throw my entire being into hoping or longing; hope at this point is often guarded, muffled by reality, translated into drive and action. I am not sure at what point hoping for hoping's sake fell out of my emotional repertoire. I remember hints of it in my adult life: sitting on my grandfather's bed after he had died and the body had been taken away, thinking about my husband the night after our first date, being pregnant with my daughter and waiting to hear the results of all of the routine tests. I'm curious about whether hope of this sort can be reintroduced, or even whether it has a place in my inner life as an adult.
These videos are so evocative of that hope in childhood. The first, Caine's Arcade, is a wonderful story both because the boy is so passionate about his arcade and because there was an adult who recognized that passion and became caught up in it. The second, a video for "Tuck the Darkness In" by the Bowerbirds, just captures that hope so profoundly.
Image at the top is a screenshot from the video above via the fabulous The Fox is Black.