My little boy stops me in the middle of a story I am
"I don't want this story; I want your story," he says.
"My story?" I ask.
"About when you were a little boy."
Alexander Cassatt and His Son Robert Kelso
Cassatt by Mary Cassatt
pause, trying to figure out where this is coming from.
"You were once a little boy, weren't you?"
"Yes, I was a little boy a
long time ago."
"Well, what happened?" he demands.
"Give me a moment. Let me think." I say, struggling to peel away the
layers of time that have grown over those childhood memories. Where was
I at his age? What was I doing? What did I think about?
I remember a steel bucket so large I couldn't
get my hands all the way
around. And I remember this big tank of water deeper than I was tall.
For some reason, I was determined to fill that bucket and dipped it
into the tank. As the water poured inside, the pail grew heavier.
Standing on the tips of my toes, I held on tightly with both hands but
the pail pulled harder and harder. I felt my feet leave the ground and
the lip of the water tank slipping down my chest.
Just as I was about to topple into the tank, two strong arms lifted me
and my bucket up in the air. Safely on the ground, I look up at my
tall, weathered grandfather. He gave me no scolding and no shame, just
a slight smile. He knew I'd learned my lesson.
"That's a good story. Tell me another one."
My father and a hired hand went
for that rabbit and caught sight of gray fur bounding for one of the
outbuildings. Like two Labradors, they ran from one side of the
building to the other, shouting and clapping their hands. While my
father slithered into the crawl space after the rabbit, the help stood
guard with a blanket to toss onto the fugitive.
lived on a small farm with a menagerie of animals. We
had ducks and chickens and horses and even a pair of squirrel monkeys
for a time. One winter, as I remember, it was a rabbit that I was most
fond of, and when he turned up missing from his pen I was in tears. The
neighbor dogs were sure to kill him, if they hadn't already.
That was about when I found my rabbit in my room, where I had stolen
him away the afternoon before, determined that he and I should sleep
together. By morning, I had forgotten he was there. And as I held him
in my arms, stroking his gray fur, I watched the two men outside and
wondered what they had caught.
boy is quiet now, his breathing soft and steady. I was going to tell
him about the time at school when the girls captured me, tied me to a
basketball pole with their jump ropes, and kissed me. Or the time I was
lost in the woods. Or how my best friend and I played cowboys and
He's asleep and I am still a
little boy. It's been so long since I've
visited these memories, all but forgotten I'm afraid. Were it not for
this child, I might never have found them again.
Boy (Portrait of Avtiranov)
by Nikifor Stepanovich Krilov