I stepped out into my front yard, greeted by a blast of hot air and the dull roar of the cicadas. Squinting into the glare of the evening sun, I noticed a strange shape atop my brick mailbox. Closer inspection revealed this to be an eight-year-old boy, my eight-year-old boy, in fact, his legs crossed and his chin in his hands. He sat atop the mailbox, deep in thought, eyes loosely focused on something I could not see.
I wandered slowly over to him, and I leaned against his perch. I didn't say anything, not for a while; he had thoughts to think, and it's a good thing to listen with contentment to what a child isn't saying. After a few minutes, though, the curiosity got the better of me, as my mother's heart wondered what heavy load had driven my boy into such a reverie.
"So," I said. "It looks like you're thinkin' things."
He paused. "Yes, ma'am."
"Wanna tell me about it?"
He paused again, as if to wonder whether his mother was ready for thoughts of such magnitude. Evidently, I passed muster.
"Sharks," he said, looking straight ahead. "I'm thinking about sharks."
"Oh," I said. "And what are you thinking about sharks?"
He raised his head and looked at me, in an of-course sort of way, and he grinned. "I'm thinkin' about catchin' 'em."
Well, of course.
I grinned in return and I rubbed his sweaty head; but not too hard, in case I interrupt the fine thoughts inside. Sensing his need for more silence, I slipped back toward my house, but not before I turned to look at him. His chin had dropped back into his hands, his eyes refocused on the asphalt street in front of him, the street down which surely, surely, any moment, a shark might swim. Never mind that it's 600 miles to the nearest ocean. When you're eight, it doesn't really matter.