The youngest gingerbread boy is on a quest. A zip-line quest for his Lego mini-figures. He ties a black cord to a bamboo basket and places it atop a very high bookcase on one side of his bedroom. After much deliberation, he stretches the cord to the opposite side of the room and ties it to a castle. The Lego mini-figure crashes. Dissatisfied, he ties the cord to his bedpost. Crashes again. He asks for help.
You take the cord, slide it through a hole in the lower shelf of another bookcase, and tie it off. He slings the Lego mini-figure down it via a wheel tinker-toy, and it glides onto the box designated as the landing zone. Sweet success.
Days pass, and each time you walk into the room with clean clothes or homework sheets, or even with the innocent intention of pulling down the window shades, the nearly invisible cord garrotes you. While you may be marginally taller than Napoleon, you can’t escape the black cord of death. But you bite your tongue because the gingerbread boy is seven, and he needs to be seven. Seven-year-olds do things with cords and Lego mini-figures, with marbles and blocks, pennies and feathers. You leave the cord up longer than you really want to.
This is the last time you’ll see seven, at least in your household. It’s a bittersweet thought. The time is coming when he won’t want you to wave as the school bus rolls down the street. He won’t welcome a hug and a kiss. He won’t ask to snuggle. So you’re permissive with the black cord of death stretched across the room; you learn to duck. Celebrate seven while you can, you think. Seven won’t last.
Few things in life do last. In your grandmother’s kitchen hung a plaque that said, “Kissin’ don’t last. Cookin’ do.” While you could dispute that, you understand the sentiment. One thing you know that lasts? Words. When sound waves peter out, and photos fade, words keep calm and carry on. Maybe that’s why you write.
Seven won’t last, but maybe you can catch it with words.
Maybe you just did.
*Cross-posted at Quirk and Quill