My three-year-old son was obsessed with letters. I was spelling every night instead of counting sheep. It wasn’t working. My husband was trying to ignore it all. That wasn’t working either.
Each day our precocious one sat at his table carefully writing letters. He’d write the letters in a row, each one a different color. All of them the exact same height. And then he’d write them in a row again, and again, and again.
Each place we went he carried one. Only one. There was a rule. There had to be. Only one letter could go with him. He had to choose, or he would try to carry them all. Neither he nor I, nor the innocent magnetic letters for that matter, would have survived without that rule.
Often Grandma and Grandpa asked our little boy to come stay with them for the weekend. On these special occasions, he was allowed to take two letter friends. On this particular visit, he chose G and R. I wondered if that had anything to do with the beginning of the words Grandma and Grandpa.
All was well until Saturday afternoon. My husband and I were discussing how the house grows when a child isn’t there. We were wondering why Einstein didn’t have a law to cover this one. During our attempts to come up with how to word it, the telephone rang. I answered it. On the other end was one very stressed Grandma.
“We can’t find G,” she said.
“Thank God, you let him bring R too.”
“Yeah, it would be ugly. Wouldn’t it?”
“I just don’t understand this kid,” his grandmother said. “I have all of these wonderful toys and he wants that one darn letter.”
“He knows it bugs you, Grandma. Don’t worry about it.”
Somehow Grandma and her grandson muddled through despite G’s disappearance. The week ended with no blood let and our son made it home safely. In no time at all, he was back at his little table writing the alphabet. The letters still each had their own individual colors. They were all in a row and perfectly the same height. But now there was one difference. The letters looked like this:
He wrote that again, and again, and again. When I realized the difference I asked where G was. He didn't stop or look up.
“At Grandma’s house,” he said.
—me strauss Letting me be