Friday, April 18, 2008
Yesterday evening, at around 7:30, my husband and I took a short drive. When I returned, the light on the phone was blinking. I called the number and the nice recording on the answering machine link told me I had missed two calls.
One was from my daughter and said she'd call back. I listened to the second message and bit my lip.
My husband came into the house. "What's wrong?" he said when he found me sitting at the table staring at the phone. "I'm not sure," I told him. "But we got a call from a very young child, a baby even. Just some sounds. The identity screen says it's a local wireless number... I'm going to call the number to make sure everything is okay."
He looked at me like I was nuts, but hey, we've been married a long time, so he shrugged.
I made the call. It was answered by a woman. I launched into my spiel. "You don't know me and I don't believe I know you, but I received a call from this number a bit ago. It was a child's voice though I couldn't understand anything he said, just some sounds ---"
The woman said, "Alice? This is Danita." (My name came up on her screen. She said later she thought I was telling a joke or putting her on so she waited through my explanation.)
Anyway, it turns out when Parker goes to sleep Danita jumps into the shower and it appears Dalton sometimes finds her cell phone and pushes buttons as fast as his little fingers can go and this time, I was the lucky recipient. The child had to wait through my message and then leave one of his own and you know, he did a good job. Other than that speech thing.
So, I got to talk to Danita and that is why I am doing this blog today for her as she is caught in new mother mode and probably will be for awhile. She sounded happy and well and says the children are doing great considering one is a newborn and the other has just landed in the land of TWO. She misses writing but knows it's just a matter of time.
Right after this, I went to watch TV and ended up finding THE NEVERENDING STORY. This is a children's story about a young boy who loses his mother and is told by his father to keep his feet on the ground. Hiding from some bullies, he finds a book by the title's name and he takes it into an attic to read. The little boy has an active imagination and soon finds this book is different from other books in that the he seems to become part of the story which is basically about saving the land of fantasy and imagination.
It's a sweet story, the little boy is adorable, and as I watched it I thought of Dalton and all the wonderful things ahead of him, and Parker, too. And given their mother's inevitable influence, is their little doubt that these two boys will know exactly how to help keep the land of imagination and dreams alive?
Here's to all the little boys and girls who know or will soon discover the thrill of opening a book and reading the first words, the words that take their hands and gently or not so gently, pull them into a world more alive than reality. Do you remember your first books? Your mother reading to you? Your children's first books and the ones you read to them? One of my fondest memories is reading a book called THE MAZE IN THE HEART OF THE CASTLE by Dorothy Gillman. Every night, my children would come sit on my bed and I would read them a chapter even though they knew how to read by themselves by then. And every night there would be a major chapter ending explosion and it was hard to stop and yet delicious to anticipate. The night the boy caught in a literal maze with a bunch of people also caught but resigned to stay there climbs the wall and then jumps off of it into a vast desert (i.e., thinks outside the box) we were all stunned.
The power of words is addictive and fascinating and has been such a huge part of my life. Another time, when computers didn't offer graphics, were just words, my kids and I played a game called Zork. Just words. Options, directions, trying to solve the puzzle with nothing but a black screen and a few questions -- a story game. At one point, we found some stairs to send the boy down and these words (more or less) flashed on the screen: "You are at the gate of hell." I shivered. They were profoundly frightening and unexpected. And though Zork evolved into future versions with pictures galore, it wasn't the same.
Words and children and imagination. I've got to go now. The phone is ringing. Maybe it's Dalton...