Jackson, our six year old, is going through an interesting new phase. After arguing with me (on no one topic in particular), he puts his head down and slumps pathetically into the office, where he finds a piece of paper and pencil and gets to work writing a letter. He then illustrates the letter with a picture that is meant to capture his emotional experience visually.
The one pictured here reads as follows:
"Im sorey theyt i Rohyolises your Rite I live in the Jogol BiY Jackson in im sore tate sremt at uow it MiY fot Biy Jackson" ("I'm sorry that I realize you're right. I live in the jungle. By Jackson. And I'm sorry that I screamed at you. It's my fault. By Jackson"
The picture shows Jackson walking away, complete with a hobo's roll on a stick -- an icon he must have picked up from a cartoon somewhere. There is a cloud directly over his head (and only his head) that is dropping big, heavy raindrops on him. There is a tear in his eye as he waves, frowning. The rest of us, including the family dog, Ally are sticking our tongues out, the spittle suggesting loud "Bronx cheers." (In another, similar picture, a bubble has me saying "Loser" as he walks away.) The sun shines down on what's left of our family, as the young runaway makes his way toward the jungle.
Privately, Jeanette and I laugh about the dramatic nature of our son's gesture. Of course, we don't let him see us laughing. He's expressing some pretty strong feelings here, and even though I do believe -- knowing him as well as I do -- that he's doing it mostly for effect, and in order to deflect attention away from the real issue at hand, i.e. whatever misdemeanor began the exchange, I do also feel he's telling us something real. In many ways Jackson is unique. There's no one else quite like him. I think sometimes he must observe us and how easily rule-following seems to come to us and wonder whether he may not, in fact, have another, much wilder family out there in a jungle somewhere, waiting to take him up their tree and embrace him in their waiting arms, legs and tails.