I doubt the trees know what I am thinking, and I doubt they would care, but they are witnesses to the growth that is occurring.
Their fallen limbs have been props to the games and antics of this boy slumbering in my lap. Their leaves have offered him shade. Their trunks have been bases, mazes, hideouts, fortresses, even foes. The trees, these current ones and the ones at our old home, have entertained the boy.
As I sit in my favorite chair, I stare at the trees and wonder what other marvels they will witness in his lifetime. At some point, will he abandon them as playmates? Will they cease having a hands on role in his daily adventures?
Today they witnessed a gathering. The boys’ fifth birthday party complete with a bounce house and face painter. The most important ingredient? The attendants – family, friends – both his and our own. Considering the old adage that it “takes a village,” I would say that the boy’s village is well stocked.
The yard was full of love and laughter. The trees witnessed it all. Of course, there were moments of trepidation and tears as suits a party for a lad, but the love and laughter overshadowed it all.
And now that the cleanup is complete and the energy of all family members depleted, I continued to stare out at the trees wondering — our trees are old and wise – what those limbs would say, what those trunks thought, what of the wisdom, the years they have witnessed, would be useful for us. For him.
To think that our existence is merely a few rings of their vast trunk is humbling and enlightening. I watch as a breeze blew through the collection of trees causing the leaves to flutter in concert. It is almost as if the trees are all standing and applauding – approving the growth, the natural passage of time.
And as much as I want him to stay this size forever, as much as I want him to stay cuddled, safely snoozing in my lap, I realize that isn’t nature’s way. It is my job to also play all those roles, and more, that the trees play in his life. It is my job to bear witness to his growth, and it is my job to also stand tall and applaud as he adds his own rings to his metaphorical trunk.
So it is. I suppose with each birthday there is a lesson not only for the child, but also the parent. With each year there is a release of the physical grasp we have, and in its place dwell the memories and love that are fostered. For that I am thankful and feel unworthy.
Happy Birthday, Little Man.
A version of this first appeared on Tales from the Poop Deck.