Sometimes, you see a scene in real life that feels just a little too literary. Here’s one.
It’s been a bit since I wrote, but I only have time for a literary moment, so no book review for a little longer. What I’m going to illustrate today is a companion piece to the first moment I wrote, The Dad. So here goes.
I was eating at a little sandwich shop, waiting for some portraits to be finished, when a family walked in. I say family, and by this I mean a mother and what appeared to be her four sons. They were all so tall, and the youngest was maybe 17 or so. Anyhow, they stood around her like bodyguards as she looked up at the high-posted menu. Did they mean to do this? Of course not, and that’s what made it so cool. It was a natural formation, and each son had taken a spot right by mom, equally spread out around her in a half circle.
I think the idea of giving birth to someone who will be bigger, much bigger at times, than you is mind-blowing. If my son continues on his present route, I’ll find out what it’s like soon enough. But what was more striking about this scene was the role reversal. When they’re smaller, kids are everywhere, and it feels like the entire world is out to get them. You only think it’ll be better once they’re out of the womb, but it’s that first night home when you realize that you have less control than ever as you try to protect them at all costs. (And my friends with adult children tell me it only gets worse.) But for this moment to which I was witness, this woman had all her sons surrounding her, flanking her, and in a very natural and almost Anglo-Saxon warrior type way – protecting her. Guaranteed, she was the safest person in the room. She didn’t look around the room nervously or even glance at anyone else. I noticed her demeanor was so confident, and she walked into that room like a queen. Not a mean or tyrannous one, but a queen who has peace and certainty about her position. And as her sons flanked her there in that sandwich shop, it really did look like a royal procession.
I suppose the concept of royalty is a bit more fluid than I’d originally considered.