character sketch

i attempted to do a writing assignment in order to enter a giveaway on my friend rachel’s blog. really, i was in it for the assignment, because it sounded like fun to convey my child’s personality using dialogue, gestures, and facial expressions. i’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have won even if i had met the deadline or the word count limit (i couldn’t even bring myself to capitalize), but i had fun writing it, so i thought i’d share. besides, when don’t i use this space as an excuse to write about my son?


my son revealed his personality when he was scheduled to make his very first appearance. contentedly or stubbornly, he waited an extra twenty days in the womb. his silent protest landed him a birthday as a pisces, rather than aquarius, and the way his movements flow in never a straight line, and lap up against my side constantly, his element fits him.

calm water. stationed at the picnic table. “i’m focused on coloring dinosaurs right now.” mouth open and tongue out.

turbulent water. ten minutes later, he visits me in the garden and solicits me for coloring with, “i’m longing to be with you.” staying home without me one morning he begs, “come back before any minutes have gone past.” water has its way of destroying, just as much as it creates, and a mama’s heart is easily crushed, soaked through, droplets of knowing clinging to every shattered piece, that she can never give all that he could absorb. my paltry offerings of attention seem to dissolve instantly into the basin of his oceanic need.

yet water is flexible and forgiving. the flow of my pisces boy’s life has really freed me from parenting lore about rigid consistency. in his third change of bedroom in two months, he laid beside me on the floor of his tent, set up in the living room (where the master bedroom also happens to be). on the pile of foam and blankets, lined with stuffed “aminals,” he gazed up and noticed, “i can see the still-wets (silhouettes) of the ants marching along the tent!” that about sums up his flow given a whole new family structure, as he has nonchalantly adopted new grandparents and pets, a stepdad, and siblings…

on the other hand, storms at sea are a force to be reckoned with. he is as stubborn as two of his aries mama. he launches an objection with gale force, including physical pummeling and his arsenal of eloquent vocabulary. dissenters exhaust themselves trying to hold their ground and guide the water back into the proper channel. in a standoff with my six-foot-three (also, incidentally, aries) partner, over the (arguably self-evident) topic of hitting one’s mama not being okay,  several long, intense minutes went by before a tear-filled ocean finally spilled over his retaining wall of stubborn will.

for watery quinn, all things are possible. “my first life was in alaska and i left my lights there…” is as likely a story beginning from quinn as “the east american white-heiny’d elk lives in africa, 150 million miles away…” he taught me that “the rain comes out of the moon’s tummy” and he uses boat terminology to help him remember that “the letter E has 3 crossbars and 2 canoe cracks!”

perhaps as its most central trait, water promotes growth. it is essential to all life, especially mine. i took my fiery self to sea at 19 to find cool relief, but this eternal wellspring of joy built right into my side has quenched that thirst more than any voyage could. life is still a lot like a rocking, open-air vessel filled with smelly boys who play guitar, but this boy is only five, and doesn’t bother much with cover tunes.

guitar nestled in his lap like an extension of his body, he crooned for a good half hour, strumming a steady rhythm to accompany himself for catchy tunes like, “as i was walking, i saw a dinosaur…” he semi-tunelessly sang on with a rapt, far-away look on his face, and transported me with this lilting ballad about being a crab fisherman on the pacific ocean:

“and so i set three crab traps
and went to another place
and set three more
and set three more in another place
and set three more in another place
and then there was only three crab traps left
so i went to another place
and set them…….”


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