My two-year-old daughter sat in the back, near sleep, as we rolled into the carwash, the act a feeble thanks to the angel who had loaned us a car over a summer trip. Not that we hadn't dared carwashes before: we have, when the wee one was more an infant, the world so full of frightening non-individuated apparitions that mechanical juggernauts, beasts and rollers did not add or subtract from her store of equipoise.
This time, rolling in, she seemed calm as the rinse began; gentle rain, I told her, the parent's spin ever-active, they're raining on our car, her peace disintegrating when soap foamed down the windows. They're making bubbles, I tried. Our call and response faltered. When the big guns came in, huge bristly egg-beaters batting against the windows, she cringed, on the verge of tears until I managed to hold her little hand. Then watchfulness overcame her, my betrayal complete.
Having come from a week of dust-covered camping in Yosemite, I had to consider what I wanted, introducing to a mind so young the idea of techne, machines wielded at the edge of our hands while we meanwhile lose our hands as a primal technology. What kind of desensitization had I hoped to create in the wee one? Especially given my own calling, the act of writing fiction requiring porosity and defamiliarization, a penchant for finding the ordinary strange? And why limit screen-time for our older daughter while simultaneously thinking it salutary that the little one might accept carwashes -- as she now does with sirens, blenders, cellphones?
Where does the hand end, where can the eye begin?
When the light turned green, she would not release my finger, held tight in her hot fist. The car behind grew impatient: green means go, one more fact this daughter of all future centuries has learned already. I tried releasing my finger from her grip so I could turn a key in a lock, gun the ignition, free ourselves to drive forward -- but to where?And what pliant goddess of the future would receive the likes of us?
Causes Edie Meidav Supports
Heifer International, Kiva, 826 Valencia