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.

53 thoughts on “Thoughts

  1. *~Michelle~* says:

    OK, so I have no clue what your little boy looks like…..but in my head, I am envisioning a little tousled haired Huck Finn boy with a sweet smile and a southern drawl (when you mentioned “ma’am”). wow….what a beautiful image. I love it.
    sounds like you are raising an amazing little boy, Shannon! 🙂

  2. Traveler says:

    What an amazing post! Thank you. I’m sitting here trying to think of how to explain just what is so touching about it, but I’m having trouble. Not that it isn’t touching, because it is but because it is kind of the entirety of a brief little moment out of time that makes it so.
    A kid I would have loved to hang out with when I was a kid and a very wise parent. Your post has made my day today.
    Thank you again.

  3. Jo@Mylestones says:

    Shannon, this has to be the most precious angle from which an eight your old boy can be painted. I love it!
    But I just have to ask, does he really say “Yes, Ma’am”? And if so, please impart some of that southern mama wisdom to me on how I can raise my little boy to do the same! 🙂

  4. Jenni says:

    Oh to sit quietly and just think two thoughts together at a time. It is a rare and pleasant gift in today’s chaotic world. Praise the Lord that your little boy knows how to do it! I wish I had more opportunity myself…minus the sitting atop a mailbox…

  5. mimi2seven says:

    I love it! That sounds just like him…..our little thinker. My guess is he had moved on to another profound topic before you got back to the porch!

  6. Dawn W says:

    We’re getting ready to head to the TX coast very soon and my two teens are dreaming of literally catching sharks! I think mostly these days my two dream of independence with anticipation of the new world opening up before them.
    Scares the tar out of this mama somedays, though. I’d like to hang onto them for just a little longer.

  7. MommaChelle says:

    As the mother of a 9 year old (his birthday was this past weekend :)), I can soooo relate to this story. Sometimes I’m too rushed to enjoy their imaginative adventures, and I realize that I’m missing out. But when I stop and take the time to listen, it always amazes me how much thought and detail a little boy can put into his daydreams.
    Does your son have the Dangerous Book for Boys? If not, you need to add it to your home library. It will definitely give him more to ponder and plan.

  8. Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

    Sharks! What else? 🙂
    A few weeks ago, my nephew was at our house for the evening, and he told me, “Sometimes I think so hard that I can’t sleep at night.” When I asked him what he was thinking about, he said, “You know…stuff like how could anyone create the universe?”
    Whoa. All right, God, I hear you. Pay attention to THIS!
    It was an awesome opportunity to talk with that little boy (who’s not so little anymore) who doesn’t have anyone else in his life to tell him how the same God who created the universe loves him. Amazing.

  9. Blakely says:

    What great story.
    I’ll tell you what happens after they catch a shark. I know because my husband caught one before we were together. He was 18 and deep sea fishing. Scott tells everyone who comes to our house the story of his shark because everyone ask about it. I hope one day Scott has an office so he can take his shark to work with him. Best of luck to your son on catching his shark.

  10. Jackie says:

    Oh my goodness I have a nine year old like that! He will just be staring… and I know he’s thinking some kind of thoughts. You just never know where his imagination is gonna take him….. 🙂

  11. Bonnie says:

    What a nice story. I have three boys myself, one of them a 3 yr old stuck on Whale Sharks after watching Planet Earth….we hear Whale Shark at least 15 times a day.
    But, I would miss it if he only said it 14 times.

  12. genny says:

    My son is eight too, and I completely relate to this post. Many times, I catch him deep in thought. When he shares what’s on his mind, it’s either that he’s planning a new invention, figuring out how to fly, or he’s working through one of the gazilion questions he comes up with, like if birds can understand what people say when we talk to them.
    It’s fun. And it always reminds me of the way kids view the world–with limitless possibility. So glad I stopped by today! I loved this.

  13. Jane says:

    I’ve taught every grade K-5 but that middle age boy- 7-9 is my favorite. They are magical. This is a perfect example of why to keep that mama journal.

  14. Steff says:

    Hey Shannon,
    have him look up sharks in OK for the story about how they caught that one in the AR River when we were in our teens…i am thinking it was between 84-86 but not positive. It was somewhere in OK between Muskogee and Ft Smith on the AR River a 3-4 foot shark.
    (i recall begging my dad to tke me to look for another one for some time after this but he never would…LOL)

  15. Linda says:

    Thanks Shannon. Dreams of little boys are amazing. You brought back a sweet memory for me. Once my little boy got lost dreaming about, believe it or not, how he could blow up the moon. Thankfully we were able to turn that thinking into a learning experience on how the moon helps us. Today my little boy has grown into an awesome 26 years old man. He’s taken me outside many times at night to show me planets and other interesting things in the night sky. Who knows what the future holds for your little shark catcher!!!

  16. Halala Mama says:

    I am convinced that grown men have these same thoughts, they have just become to shy to share them. So now when we ask, “what’cha thinking?” They reply, “nothing,” but they’re really thinking about sharks.

  17. tammie says:

    your post made me think of my son now all grown up and married, but he was quite a clever thinker also. your sights and sounds of cicadas flooded my senses and heart with thoughts of my mom. it is a wonderful memory that i hope folks don’t think is cruel for you see my dear sweet mom who is no longer with me taught me to catch cicadas and tie a string around their head and then let them fly around. it was great fun and we always let them go. we also caught lightning bugs and crawfish. what fun and delight nature can provide us if we only stop to take the time.
    enjoy the years ahead with your son cause too soon he will be up and gone, but he’ll always be your little shark catcher.

  18. Stephanie says:

    Too funny. That’s the kind of conversation I have with my husband quite often. 😉
    I think, “Oh, he’s so serious and contemplative.”
    But then I ask him what he is thinking about…
    and it’s usually 4-wheeling or guns or something like that…

  19. Stephanie says:

    One other question: do you teach your kids to call you “ma’am”? Just curious.
    It must not be in Arizona thing because I don’t hear that ever “around these parts.”

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