Bryce reminded me the other evening that the wind and the rain sound the same when listening to the leaves. We were leaving our courtyard, where there is a narrow passageway about two hundred feet long. Alongside the way is a building to one side and a parking lot separating townhouses. We were looking up, following squirrels, on our way to the park for a while before dinner.
The green leaves rustled over us. He said that it was raining. The air was moist, and it had rained a bit earlier that day. “No, I told him. That’s the wind.”
He looked at me and I wondered if he was telling himself that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. He decided to do what he’s been doing more of lately, repeat what I said. “That’s the wind.”
And while we walked, passing dogs and people and stopping at corners to look for cars, I thought about his perspective. I thought about how far I am from thinking simply that many of nature’s sounds are similar.
I hadn’t pushed the issue with him, but had I been thinking, I could’ve given him a pass. I could have said that it was raining. I could have said it was raining leaves and that if we stayed longer that a few of them would soon fall. I could have told him that we should stick around in the wind, continue looking up, and run around together trying our best to catch falling leaves.
I read that encouraging a child’s imaginative answers helps them maintain the level of creativity they are born with, something that most children have lost this by grade school as they learn what the ‘correct’ answers are – and how to find them without imagining – and that correct answers garner adult approval. I remember clearly what the world was like for me at two or three years old – I had no idea how anything worked and had to imagine the answers for everything: there were people inside the TV making the TV show; the slide trombone player slid the trombone down his throat like a sword swallower; God was whispering to me in the quiet of my afternoon nap. I now imagine my unborn son, sometime in the future, coming up with his own answers. Will I be able to allow him to keep them? I imagine I will, because although I would like to think I know, I really have no idea what I will be like as a father – how that will work, for me or for him.