While touring my son Truman’s classroom the other day, I came across this self-portrait he had created entirely out of words which describe the way he sees himself or which hold significance for him.
Upon close inspection, I notice that the words the saxophone and family outline his frontal lobe. He uses artistic and bookish to form his left ear. I see Beloit College in the right ear and am reminded how much he wants to hear from his big sister. He includes Wisconsin, where his sister now lives, London, where his dad and I met, and Muir Woods, the beautiful old growth forest, a sacred place where his dad proposed to me four years later.
Disneyland, Universal Studios, and amusement parks receive honorable mention. The boy spends a lot of time thinking about happy family adventures and planning our next trips.
At first, I can’t make out one word until I recognize that he has misspelled Morocco. He was thinking of Casablanca, a film we saw as a family in the theater last summer. I had wondered if it would hold his interest. He loved it!
He uses books, reading, and poetry, all of which make me proud. Roald Dahl appears as a favorite author, each of his novels read and reread.
His inclusion of brave and True makes me tear up. His use of history, hilarious, and understanding make me smile. Creative, inventive, and music warm my heart.
Interestingly, he places communicative on the left side of his head, over his left brain, the side that controls language, a fact he has not yet learned. I think about the importance of that word, as communication dominates much of our family’s focus and energy; his brother has no use of verbal language. And yet words are big in our home as we express ourselves creatively through writing, public speaking, and performing. I often feel struck by the special poignancy of two writers creating two more writers and one wordless son, and the ways in which the silent boy teaches us. It’s no wonder that compassionate appears in Truman’s reflection. Perhaps this is my favorite word of all.