Thoughts like fish, slippery and darting
Watching mom trying to navigate the reaches of her mind is a lesson in patience.
It's as if thoughts and words are like minnows, swimming around her ankles. She'll have her eye on one in particular, and bend to follow it, reaching with both hands to grasp it. But just as her fingers begin to close, the slippery little body slips between them, darts away, and is quickly lost in the mass of similar fishes that surrounds her. Lost in a swirling cloud of information, each word and thought unique and worthy of merit and attention. Each one impossible to grasp.
We watch her face as she watches it swimming away, eventually shaking her head and giving up in graceful defeat. "Oh," she'll start out. "I don't know."
She is more graceful than we are. More accepting of the futility of catching a minnow but still willing to try. We toss out nets woven of reminders and cues, hoping to rescue her from otherwise certain failure. But when we do she turns her head to the side and furrows her brow, as if telling us that we are distracting her from the hunt.
It is a lesson in patience to bite our lips and keep our fingers still rather than trying to build her the perfect piece of fishing equipment. We are slow to learn, and are still working out the right way to respond when she admits the minnow is gone. We usually just point out another fish and renew our hope that perhaps she'll be able to catch it.
Then off she goes on another hunt, her face alive for the moment with clarity and purpose. And the minnows swim and dart. And we watch and wait.