To my son, I am a Time Lord, zipping him off to adventures in our vessel, which looks like a 2010 Ford Focus. I've named her Serendipity, but he calls her Iron Bert.
At various times in our shared journey, I have been 10 times, 20 times, even 40 times as old as he. He sees me as the connection to universal wisdom, a role I scarcely feel capable of fulfilling. As often as possible, I try to answer, although sometimes I have to simplify my response to fit his understanding. Some things he will one day understand; some things I wish he never would. Sometimes I must admit that I ask him to stop asking so many questions so I can focus on fixing something difficult.
He looks up to me as amazing, looking past my raggedy, out-of-date clothing, the body I barely recognize. I have gone through many incarnations since I was his age, and I carry those selves within my memory. At times, I tell him about them, but I doubt he can grasp what those faint whispers of my reality mean to me, perhaps even to the universe.
Today, Serendipity became a diesel freight train, collecting animals on our way to his daddy's office at his new job, to drop off his computer reference books and desk toys. As we sauntered past a papier mache giraffe named Dumbledore in the lobby, I casually mentioned that we'd just dropped off a load of zoo animals in the parking lot. My husband seemed only a little surprised. We do this sort of thing a lot.
Right now, my little companion is playing with his favorite toy robot, a mecha model from the "Evangelion" series. He has renamed her Scrubby. As I write this missive, he chatters on: "I think Scrubby is a person in a robot suit. See? Shoes." I rely on that perspective, his creativity lightening my daily load.
He reminds me what matters: appreciating the scents, sounds, and sights surrounding us. Through him, I view the word anew. He delighted in the snow that buried the East Coast, tossing fluffy handfuls into the air to make "snow confetti." The delight in his eyes as he sledded for the first time was a divine nectar I couldn't stop imbibing.
And just when I am secure in my position as the wise protector, he surprises me by being the strong one. The boy who once cried plaintively when he didn't get his bedtime story now takes the book and flashlight from me on nights I can't keep my eyes open, to finish reading the book to himself. On the day my mom -- his grandma -- died, he gave me extra hugs so I wouldn't be sad.
A childless friend once asked me why I got the best possible case for my cell phone. I told him, "Because if I'm faced with a choice between catching my child or my phone, I will always catch my child." My son has noticed -- and I have told him -- that I will always feed him first, see that his needs are taken care of before my own. "I am the most important thing," he tells me confidently, repeating my words.
For me, he is a fixed point in time, his birth a moment that must always exist. I would not fiddle with my timeline, for fear of rewriting that moment, which would collapse my universe.
I fill him full of goodness, whispering to him, both asleep and awake, "I will always love you." These were the first words I spoke to him, along with his name. My mom blessed me with the same beginning, telling me about that moment, again and again, to imprint it into my life's story.
A moment recorded, once read, becomes an ineffable conclusion. My dinosaur-loving, robot-fixing builder of worlds, let's write more adventures together. And one day, when you tire of traveling with me and strike out on your own, know that I will never forget the time I was your Time Lord, and you were my companion.