A few nights ago I brought a couple of pizzas over to my girlfriend’s house to share with her and her two little boys. The oldest boy, a cutie-pie a year younger than Calvin, was proudly showing me his latest talent spinning a large inflatable tube around his rigid outstretched arm, something he had learned in gym class. I sat in the kitchen with his mother eating a slice of deep-dish sausage pie and drinking a glass of red wine as he frolicked around the room in stocking feet, jumping and spinning the tube around and around and around.

Suddenly, something went wrong. The boy went berserk, writhing and convulsing on the floor seemingly choking, strange guttural sounds emerging from his mouth. Instantly, I panicked and nearly jumped out of my seat to call 9-1-1. But seeing his mother sitting quietly relaxed taking another sip of her wine, I realized that nothing was wrong. The kid was simply being a kid, spazzing out, letting his imagination and inhibitions go wild—you know, like normal kids do. And though I was relieved that there was no emergency, an uneasy feeling rushed over me—of surging adrenaline—that upset my nerves. When my kid did this sort of thing it would be because he’d be having a seizure.

The next thought I had, and one that I shared with my friend, was my uncertainty as to whether Calvin has an imagination. Of course it is within the realm of possibility—perhaps even likely—that he does, though I don’t know how I’d ever be sure. He's so locked in, unable to express anything but glee, obstinance, want and love, and even then, these emotions are often murky and difficult to ascertain.

But perhaps I'm the one who must employ my own imagination to somehow get inside Calvin's head to understand that he, like other kids, just might be able to dream.

photo by Michael Kolster

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