I read Feminist writer Sara Ahmed. She says “love can be bestowed on an ordinary thing.” She refers to George Elliot’s story about a boy and his clay pot. Elliot calls the pot the boy’s companion — it lends its usefulness to the boy, it expresses a desire to help him. I am excited by these verbs and the idea that between people and objects exists a real relationship.
The three year old I live with collects small things in containers. Buttons and rocks and beads. I find them under our bed and at the top of the stairs. The containers and their contents are of equal importance to him. When he looses things, he wails. Sara Ahmed writes: “What matters, matters.”
The neurodiverse nine year old uses words like “astonishing” (to describe parchment paper ice over puddles on the walk to school) and “peril” (in reference to the general state things, when listening to the news on the radio) and “fellow” (a school friend in a recess story). He asks what a scapegoat is and thinks that when I hug him my arms feel like those stiff padded bars that are the seatbelts on rollercoasters. (A hug is therefore restraint and a thrilling free fall?) In our house it used to feel like we were not allowed humour. The nine year old was a very serious toddler. Now humour is everywhere, like quills in ordinary life. It’s in the board games he brings into the house. In one, a giant lizard creature battles a cat wearing a spacesuit and the money is little emerald cubes. With board games, I’ve learned, you have to invest to get the fun. First you have to take it seriously and learn the rules that will contain your fun. Only then will you reap joy like a bountiful harvest. In the living room there is now a pile of boxes of fun you can earn with your attention.
Sara Ahmed goes on to write about clumsiness and broken things. A friend texts me that repairing my wool pants with a small bit of thread contributes to their dignity. I like this. It reminds me of David Whyte who says it is a mistake to live in the world as if we are alone. “To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings.” The astonishing puddle, the jar of buttons, the growing pile of board games. The radio voice, the roller coster.