My daughter is easy for me to understand. She is open, affectionate, and easy to redirect. Of course at 22 months, this is all subject to change, but I think these qualities are just part of her sweet nature.
My son, on the other hand, is a mystery to me. He gets his feet stuck in the cement of little, everyday issues so I feel I am in a near constant tug-of-war with him. He is highly sensitive; we never know what will set him off. He is also freakishly verbal, creative, and intelligent.
Despite his intensity, he is very lovable. I find myself constantly amazed at how he can make friends anywhere he goes. I am in a constant state of hypervigilance and confusion when I am with him- caught between the insane love only a mother can know, walking on eggshells to avoid his tantrums, and mystified at some of the deep thoughts he produces.
When Jack was a little over two, he started talking about Japan. We never had occasion to expose him to much Japanese culture at that point, so it fascinated us. Daily, he made statements about Japan, about a dusty old house where he swept a dirt floor, about his garden, about people he knew and things he would do.
A lot of it escapes me now. I wish I had paid more attention, written more down. I do remember one time when he was talking about being an old, old man in Japan. “That was before you and Daddy were born, Mama,” he added.
Sometimes he would use his past in Japan as an excuse. “Oh, broccoli? I don’t like broccoli. I tried it once in Japan.”
One time, we passed a monument in a park that was shaped like a pagoda. Jack pointed to it from his car seat. “Do you see that?” he asked. “That is what my house looked like in Japan!”
For me, the jury is still out on past lives and all of that mystical hocus pocus. I’m not saying it isn’t possible, I just don’t know about it or believe in it. But little Jack spoke of Japan with such innocent conviction it was startling and made it all seem possible.
He went on about Japan until he turned four, and then his past life regressions, if that is indeed what they were, became less and less. By five, he hardly mentioned Japan at all anymore.
I heard somewhere that kids reference past lives up until about this time, and then the veil between the two worlds gets thicker, whatever that means.
People used to tell us we should take him for a past life session with a psychic, but this seemed far fetched, and the idea of sitting a little boy down to learn about another life seemed macabre.
I happened to be out with Jack the other day, and we found ourselves in a new age shop. We smelled candles, admired Buddhas, and touched crystals. Jack found a little turtle pin, which I brought to the counter to buy for him.
On a whim, I asked the lady at the counter if she did past life regressions. She said she did. I started to explain to her that Jack used to talk about Japan all the time.
“That’s because he was in Pearl Harbor,” she stated before I finished. “I saw it in him as he walked past.”
She went on to tell me that my child was an American soldier in the battle of Pearl Harbor. He perished there, but not before saving about 16 other people. “He kept diving into the water to save people,” she said. “He was a hero. He might have some kind of an aversion to water?”
“Yes!” I gasped. “He only just learned to swim! He is not buoyant at all! He sinks like a stone in the water.” She shook her head serenely. She must have that kind of reaction from people all the time.
Jack was bored, waiting out in the entry-way of the shop.
“He’s a warrior.” She said. “And at some point, he will start seeing spirits. They may present as imaginary friends.” Jack came back into the shop, grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the door. I said good bye to the psychic and we made our way to our car.
Driving home, I felt queazy. Hearing how your son “perished” in his past life is a disturbing conundrum. I didn’t say anything about it to Jack.
By the time I shared the story with my husband, I had chillaxed enough to conclude this psychic lady probably just had an active imagination. I mean, I can watch people walk past me and come up with stories about them all day long, and I suppose if you do it long enough, you gain a strong conviction in your stories. I have no doubt her intentions were pure, and she believed what she told me heart and soul.
In another way, hearing about my son’s “warrior” nature brought me comfort. I’ve always said he came back into this life with a vengeance. Not that he is a vengeful soul, but just that he had unfinished business and a lot of life to live with every cell in his being. Hearing this is just his nature was validating. It took away some of the constant blame and guilt that I place on myself for being a crappy mom who made a mad kid because I had him circumcised or tried to make him cry it out when he was a baby.
The encounter with Madame Mystic also made me realize how people can fall in love with psychics and become dependent on them. We all crave answers for one quandary or another. Whether it is if we will ever find true love or win the lottery or hear the voice of our dearly departed, we all want an answer for something. I would love to know what makes my kid tick. Having a woman take one glance at my son and weave this incredible story was enticing as all hell. Could this explain my fear that Jack will grow up and join the military? Could this be why I am enchanted by all things Hawaiian?
I think not.
Regardless of where Jack was in his past life, he is my boy in this life. Somedays I struggle to understand him, and other days I accept that this is just the mystery involved in being a mom.