May 21, 2013

When He Doesn't Know I'm There

His eyes dart fitful around the gymnasium, seeking through the echo of all these parents - searching, searching, never finding.  I want to be like the other fools, bouncing in their child-sized chairs, waving arms wild above their heads so their child knows.  But I am loathe to embarrass him and loathe to embarrass myself and surely he'll find me, sitting right here mid-way, beside his father with the phone camera poised.

His shoulders are low and he bites his lip and he's dejected as he grabs his bucket and drum sticks to sit on the stage floor and I am the cruel missing link and he doesn't even know that I'm not at work, that I'm sitting right here and I'm really caring about what he's about to do.  He doesn't even know.

He doesn't know that I'm watching the way he watches the teacher, follows directions, hits that bucket with those sticks like he might be able to save the world by doing it - that's how intent he is.  All bang bang my mom's not here - calling out like a tribal litany.  Bang bang bang.  How his tongue sneaks out in his concentration.  How he flicks back his hair with a toss of his head. (Oh, how I'll miss that hair!) How that eternally worn wooden Jesus fish bounces against his chest.  How he's prettier than most of the girls.  How his brow furrows in concentration.  How I'm too far to see them but I still know every single freckle that dances across his nose.

He doesn't know that I'm clapping with the rest of them.  That I think he did his very best.

He doesn't know that, when he bows, I think he is the most graceful creature up on that stage.  The way he bends his body and dips at near 90ยบ.  The regalness of it.  He doesn't know.

Not until that night.  When I tell him.  "Like a prince!" I say.

"What?" He doesn't want to be pleased at this.  He doesn't want to be a prince.  Just a boy who's mother loves him enough to wave wild from the crowd.  But he is pleased.  A blush across those freckles.

"A prince," I say again.  "It was perfect.  A perfect bow."  And I demonstrate and he laughs.

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