I am watching from the window as my six-year-old boy waits patiently to cross one of the busier roads in our neighborhood. Not NYC downtown busy. Not even pedestrian-crosswalk-light busy. Just busy enough to pay attention, and be ready, for a swiftly moving car to round the bend.
He waited. And waited. As I watched…and watched. No cars were coming. Until……ah ha! A bus was slowly eeking its way in our direction. He just stood there, watching that big yellow monster. You can see him, can’t you? He’s small and wearing a Darth Vader winter hat, the kind that covers the ears, so tiny people don’t need to mess with scarves. He’s sporting a puffy winter coat that is covered in camouflage, as if he’s got plans for the future. Or for the gun battle awaiting him at the neighbor’s house.
The bus gains momentum and breezes on past him; not a hair on his head is harmed, and it’s even too short to blow in the wind. I am still there, too. In the window, waiting for him to cross, watching his little head turn toward the opposite sidewalk across the vast black pavement. The road is like the Amazon River, deep and wide, to any mother watching her child cross it.
He makes a break for it! Little legs running, running, running. Not looking left or right, just straight ahead toward that pasture. At that moment, I see the grey car coming to a quick halt, not more than two car lengths to his left. By this time, his light little feet have leapt up on to the opposite shore. He keeps running and running. Toward his friend, who has appeared behind him in the distance, biking in Asher’s direction.
The joy, the exuberance, the sheer torture, all wrapped up in one brutally fragile and brave moment. This is what it is to cross.