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So Be It

July 30, 2014

For the last week my oldest son has been away at the beach with my twin and nephew. He’s living the dream, which amounts to a week without his brothers.  He loves his brothers, but there are a lot of them.  He needed a break.

While he’s been away, I’ve been plowing through his assigned summer reading for seventh grade.  A voracious reader, he devoured most of the books before sixth grade ended and left them sitting in a stack on his desk gathering dust.  I don’t usually read school books alongside him, mostly because I have my own books to read but also because I witness so much helicoptering in my life as a university professor that I deliberately avoid buzzing around him.  But I’ve missed him this past week.  And so I’ve been reading his books.

I couldn’t put down Sarah Weeks’ So B. Ita novel about a 12-year-old girl named Heidi who has so little knowledge of her birth that she’s not even sure of her birth date.  She lives with her mother, who has a “bum brain” and cannot tell her anything, and is cared for by a neighbor, who found Heidi and her mother when Heidi was days old.  Most of the book is about Heidi’s quest to unlock the mystery of how she came to be.  When she discovers a clue from pictures on an old camera, she travels alone by bus from Reno, Nevada, to Liberty, New York, to demand information from the place, and people, in the pictures.

I finished So B. It in stolen moments, leaning against the trash cans in the garage while my other boys played in the yard. I wondered what it would have been like to read this book at 12, the same age my son is.  I’m sure it would have stirred in me what it still stirs, despite my knowing so much more about my beginnings.  I tried to imagine, too, taking this book into my seventh grade classroom and talking about it with my teacher and peers, with people who, for the most part, had no idea what it was like not to know where they came from.

IMG_6855 My son, a dead ringer for his father, has never, not once, wondered how and why he came to be.  There is no mystery, no evasive truth.  When he wants to know the story of his birth, I tell him.  He is surrounded by grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins whose stories wrap him in a cocoon of knowledge.

The 12-year-old me would have felt alone in that classroom.  She would have been afraid to speak, to cast herself as different, knowing she was, wishing she wasn’t.  She would have spent class period after class period having intense discussions with everyone–in her head.

I call my son at the beach.

We agree that we found the book compelling for different reasons: he, because he’s never felt like that; me, because I have.

“Do you think it’s important to know how you came into this world?” I ask.

He pauses.

“How else would you know you were in the right place?” he says finally.

In my head, I say so be it.  

Aloud, I say amen.  

 

 

 

 

 

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 30, 2014 2:39 am

    Amen indeed,

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