Sorry, but I couldn’t help using the title of the techno 80’s song by The Human League as my title today. It’s about fascination, and I love the 80’s – even though the two are completely unrelated in this post. I could relate them, but that’s another post completely.
Last night, in a burst of nostalga, my twelve-year-old daughter asked me to read her a bedtime story. I told her I’d be happy to oblige, just as soon as I was done helping her big brother cut his college admissions essay from 678 words to 500.
She wanted me to read “Curious George Gets A Job.” I’ve always loved Curious George, and this particular story is one of my favorites. He wraps himself up in spaghetti (which, as a kid was like a fantasy of mine); he gets to be a window-washer on a high-rise; he paints some woman’s room to look like a jungle; and, in the end, he gets to star in a movie about his own life. Awesome!
My kids have a history with Curious George. I read all of the stories to all three of them multiple times over. One of my favorite Curious George memories happened when my oldest son was about three.
He had gone to preschool one day, and on the drive home I was asking him about his favorite part of the day, show and tell. The kids were able to bring in a toy and talk to the class about it. On this particular day, Jay was telling me about the Transformer one of his classmates had brought in. After finishing his discription I remarked, “Boy, I guess you really liked that Transformer, huh?” To that he replied,
“Oh yes! I was fascinated…and curious.”
I knew immediately his vocabulary had come straight from Curious George, and I complimented myself for being such a good parent. I bragged about that one for quite some time, let me tell you. (There were so many other things not to brag about – the snot being wiped on the wall, for one – that I had to latch on to something. Give me a break!)
Anyway, as I was reading to Elle last night, I got to the part where George is looking inside of the window where he sees the men painting. The text says, “George was fascinated.”
Memories came flooding back – sitting on the floor with my three-year-old son reading this very book, driving home in the car after pre-school, bragging to our friends that our kid has such a fantastic vocabulary. I could hear the clicking of the keyboard as he worked to finish his Common Application for college.
Suddently a giant lump choked me, and I couldn’t continue reading. My face got hot and instantly I could feel my eyes well up with tears.
People warned me that this weird sensation would happen this year, that at the oddest moments I would feel the pang of heartache knowing that my little boy was just about all grown up. I didn’t really believe them. I’m not that sentimental. I’m not like everyone else. I didn’t cry when he went to kindergarten. But, here I was, verklempt…and fascinated.
Fascinated that near strangers could predict so accurately what I am going through at this time in my life.
Fascinated that my pre-teen daughter, who wants to wear make-up and texts nonstop on her cell phone, still wants mommy to tuck her in at night.
Fascinated at how fast time goes.
Fascinated by the degree to which I have no control over my memories and emotions.
Fascinated by the power of one little word, fascination.
And as I think about the word, I also think about a little boy fascinated by a toy. And I hope that I will always find something in life to be fascinated by.