Cinema Paradiso / by Susie Lubell

Pink Flower

We had a busy morning. It was effectively the first day of summer. Preschool ended yesterday and they start two weeks of summer camp on Monday. But today was a day reserved just for us to hang out as a trio. We rode bikes downtown. Went to the post office. Got coffee/chocolate milk. Watched trains. Went to the bank to deposit $26.25 that he saved in his piggy bank. It was a busy, but enjoyable morning.

We returned home for lunch and my daughter went down for her nap. My son decided to do some painting and I did a little design work on my computer. We listened to music. Then we played Zingo. Half way through the game I changed the music to the sound track from Cinema Paradiso, which if you haven't seen, you must get it in your queue immediately. The music alone is enough to make your heart burst right out of your chest. Then something changed. My son started to turn melancholic during the game. Then he inexplicably started to tear up.

I proceeded to ask him if he wanted to do something else. Play something else. Watch a movie. Paint more. His eyes were still welled with tears. Did he want to use my paper cutter? He nodded (sometimes he needs a little occupational therapy). I go to get a few prints I had made a while ago that printed with a clogged black ink cartridge so they are very colorful but not "sellable". I bring them back to the studio to cut into strips so we can make a garland or something by which time he is lying on the murphy bed sobbing. And the music is swelling in the background and it occurs to me that he is somehow moved by the music. Maybe. I snuggle with him on the bed for a few minutes and then I whisper, is it the music?

Yes.

I asked him if he wanted me to turn it off and he nodded, too overwhelmed to speak. A minute later we started cutting and about ten minutes into our project he said he was feeling better. So we talked about how music is powerful stuff. How it can make us even cry. How I cried too when I first heard it. He smiled.

Three years ago I started this blog because I needed some place outside of my head to process my son's behavior. It took some time and some counseling to understand that he was a text-book "sensitive child". Not only in the "cries when you look at him sideways" kind of way but also in the "mommy, I can hear the light buzzing" kind of way. He was the kid that panicked at Gymboree and Music Together. Participation at birthday parties usually meant watching from the side. It was hard both because I desperately wanted him to be like the other kids who seemed to so easily fit into their surroundings and because I saw so much of myself in him.

In many ways he's a very different boy now. He warms up to people more quickly. He speaks his mind. He even goes barefoot. But at his core he's still every bit as sensitive as he always was, and I'm finally proud to say, he gets that from me.