So Much More: Life through the eyes of a 4-year old.

{Photo: Thomas Lloyd Qualls}

{Photo: Thomas Lloyd Qualls}


My son is four years old. And though I’ve been an involved parent every day of his life, I feel like I’ve just started to really see him.

I’ve been thinking about how the world looks from his eyes, wondering why (and how) he does the things he does. And I’ve made at least one wonderfully terrifying observation:

He is so much more than I am.

From his fearlessness to his curiosity to his experimentation with language, he literally eclipses me in almost every way. Except, you know, he can’t pay the mortgage yet. But things like that are really only important in this stupid adult game of real world we’ve made up.

I love to watch you grow

I love to try and learn some of what you know

~ Greg Brown

What he knows is infinitely more important than what I can teach him. Because I’ve also realized that — in some inescapably sad ways — my job is to teach him how to function in this make-believe world, so that he can eventually set out on a journey of unlearning, of finding out everything he knows right now.

We come in knowing we are whole. And we must learn separation. And then we must spend a good deal of the rest of our lives in the pursuit of wholeness.

I wish I could say it better than I am saying it. If he could type, he’d probably do a much better job of telling you what he knows. He’d explain to you how things fly, how we make tomatoes, and how to draw fire. He’d share the wisdom of why it is essential that you keep playing in the sandbox when your parents are asking you for the third time to put on your shoes for school.

He’d show you the secrets of running really, really fast and of how to throw a ball all the way up to the sky. He’d explain all the different types of tractors and dump trucks. And let you know that fairies and trolls are real. Because he’s seen them.

All these things are just the beginning. And because I’m too old to remember and because I can only get a glimpse of what he sees, he’d be the first one to tell you that I just don’t understand. And he’d be right.

He is so much more than I am. And despite all the mind-blowingly frustrating every-two-minutes kind of madness that is being a parent, I am humbled that I’ve been graced with this chance. I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve this glimpse of the universe or this opportunity to serve in such a noble way.

“Be not too much his parent.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

But I renew my vows to be better at it. To pay closer attention. To stand in reverence of the beauty of his discoveries, his unfettered imagination, his fierce will, his effortless ability to slay two parents at once, his preoccupation with bees, his easy tears, and his spontaneous hugs.

He is so much more than I am. And I somehow I have to reconcile that with the fact that I’m still the dad and I have parent jobs to do. And I hope that one day, he’ll forgive my ignorance and my fumbling.



{Don’t grow up.}

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Thomas Lloyd Qualls
Thomas Lloyd Qualls is writer, novelist, essayist, videographer, the recipient of three Best Novelist awards, the co-creator of the Power of Words Video Project, and a regular contributor to Rebelle Society and to Reno Tahoe Tonight Magazine. Waking Up At Rembrandt’s, his debut novel, has received local and national critical acclaim. On occasion, he is also a painter, bike rider, foot massager, and sometimes salvager of troubled lives. The second edition of Waking Up at Rembrandt’s is now available in print (think of vinyl, only for books) and on multiple e-version platforms. (If you want to stop what you're doing and buy it right now, go ahead. We'll wait for you.) And hot off the electronic press: a new book of poetry, love jaywalks, is available all over the damn place in ebook format. Still to come: new paintings and a second novel, Painted Oxen, due out sometime in 2014 (fingers crossed). In the meantime, feel free to stop by his website whenever you like and subscribe to his online journal, alchemy of words, while you’re there.

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