Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Not Tomorrow Anymore

And that's putting it mildly. I have to give Hawk credit here. It's his line, and his response to my explanation that tomorrow (meaning, at that point in time, New Year's Day) our South Island holiday would come to an end and we would fly home to Wellington. Not today. This was a colossal disappointment, because here we were in the most! amazing! place! ever!the Christchurch airport, in point of factand Aunt Edna was going to be riding the airplane home (to San Francisco); whereas we had the unfortunate destiny of heading back to the parking lot and our rental car, to return for our flight tomorrow.

"No, Dad. It's not tomorrow anymore."

I explained that our fate was actually a double-plusgood fortune, as seeing Edna off meant two trips to the airport instead of just one.

But Hawk wasn't having it. He wanted to ride the airplane, and he wanted to ride it now.

You have to understand that this kid loves to travel. He loves airplanes, he loves helicopters, he loves "hot balloons." He hasn't yet directly experienced the latter two modes of transport, but he has plans. Indeed, it's no small thing to visit Frank Kitts Park, a playground by the Wellington waterfront, precisely because it's situated directly across from the HELiPRO touring company.

Whenever a helicopter takes off or "lands down," whatever Hawk is up toclambering up a sliding board, using the swivel-mounted telescope as a dragon-slaying slingshot (after his friend Hiccup), or simply gallivantingcomes to an immediate end. For a moment, he stands transfixed, fully possessed by the sheer awesomeness of this flying machine; and, then, senses returning, he triumphantly names the object of his adoration"Helicopter! (which to the untrained ear sounds like "hoe-coptah!")and enjoins his playground cohorts to feel the excitement, the power and the glory that is happening just over there. If they look up at all, it is only for a few seconds. No matter. Hawk returns his attention to the event at hand, all the while his fingers moving as if, at that very moment, those microscopic dendritic connections are forming and he is piloting the craft himself, virtually. I swear, I fully expect him to turn to me at some point in the not-too-distant future and say: "I know kung fu."

Hawk also loves cars, which made our tour of the South Island (as they say here) easy done. Two-to-four-hour stints in the back of the car? In the car seat? No problem! Dad, on the other hand, sitting in the front of the car, in the driver's seat, on the right-hand side of the vehicle, on the left-hand side of the road, had to contend with wholly new versions of physics and instinct. But these parameters apparently would have been no trouble for Hawk, who on more than one occasion scrambled into the driver's seat of the parked car and directed me to the car seat, as (he informed us) he was now in possession of a driver's license!

I can't fault him for trying. His innate sense of speed, his love of zooming!, his passionsall point to his ability to be effortlessly in the moment at all times. I suspect it's his sheer presence that explains why our sense of time here in New Zealand is so altered (we've already been here a year?), and why at the end of the day, during storytime, Hawk is not the only one approaching sleep. I never understood how or why childrearing was so often described as exhausting. It's the presence demanded of us. The focus. The high alert. We have no choice, no course, but to learn swiftly that the usual patterns may not apply, that flipping a familiar control may activate not the turn signal but the windshield wipers, and that, if we are not doggedly mindful, we risk driving headlong into a large tour bus, or worse. Nope, it's not tomorrow anymore. It's better.

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