The immediate family started off the day with a ceremonial blasting of “Gonna Fly Now”, aka the Rocky music (that’s not “Eye of the Tiger”). Primarily that was for my wife’s benefit, as she told me in the days leading up to the start of school that she could use the musical psyche-up to prepare herself for having to let the little guy soar out of the nest and into his elementary school days. But it served to get the little guy fired up as well, which was all to the good. And of course I played that song exactly five years earlier, first thing in the morning on the day we were scheduled to head to the hospital for his delivery, so it might as well be the little guy’s official birthday song, at that. I started to tell the little guy that the song we were listening to had been played the day he was born, and at that precise moment the emotional weight of how fast he’s growing up as signified by starting really-real school finally hit me full force and I could barely get the words out with dry eyes. Fortunately Bill Conti’s symphonic bombast covers up a lot of halting throat-clearing.
When the little guy got back home of course my wife and I interrogated him about everything he had done in school, and he dutifully reported on all of it. The best moment came near the end of the recap, as he explained to us that one of the last things they did in class was to draw pictures of what they were most looking forward to learning about that year. “I drew a picture of the Earth,” the little guy explained to us, “because …”
Let me interrupt myself, if I may, to outline what my wife and I were both thinking at that moment. (We compared notes later on.) I was thinking that his sentence was going to end with “... my favorite thing to learn about is astronomy.” Hence our home planet. My wife on the other hand believed he was about to say “... my favorite thing to learn about is science facts.” Hence the natural world. I went more specific, she went more general, but more or less we were both thinking along the same lines.
The little guy, however, was thinking much bigger picture than either of us. “... I just want to learn everything!” was how he concluded the thought. Which is totally brilliant, not just as goals go but also that he was able to take something as abstract as “everything” and give it a good pictographic representation; he wants to learn everything in the whole world, so he drew the world. And he said it in a tone of voice that seemed to imply, you know, why would anyone settle for any less than the sum of all human knowledge? Isn’t that what school is for?
He is precious, and he is a handful. And now we have a whole school system with which the share the joys and challenges of keeping his manic little mind occupied. Good, good times.