For Zane, on his last day before kindergarten:
There’s no truth about your childhood, though there’s a story, yours to tend, like a fire or garden. Make it a good one, since you’ll have to live it out, and all its revisions…Who knows if he’s happy or not? A child is all the tools a child has, growing up, who makes what he can.
— from “A Happy Childhood” by William Matthews
Zane and I took a walk in the woods today—it was the thing I wanted to do most before sending him off to kindergarten tomorrow. As we walked, we talked about the way that things are changing and I asked him if he felt he had experienced a happy early childhood at home with me. He said he had a lot of okay days, some good days, and some bad days…but, mostly good days, “as one would expect.” (Yes, he actually used an indefinite pronoun.) Every time I think about tomorrow, the back of my throat tightens. I don’t want him to see me cry, though, because this is his story, and he will make what he can. Perhaps if it hadn’t been such a happy childhood—perhaps if he hadn’t been such a joy to care for—I would be sending him off with a sigh of relief. I suppose we can relive pieces of our years at home together through my pictures, and our memories. I will surely remember more about his early days than he will…but, even then, when I am old it may be he who has to remind me about all of the adventures we had.
While you browse the photos of our day in the woods, perhaps you’d like to listen to a classical piece that I feel nicely represents Zane’s early childhood, “Concerto for Oboe and Strings, Mvt. 1 – Rondo Pastorale (feat. Celia Nicklin)” by Ralph Vaughan Williams (click play button below to hear audio).