A Long, Long Time

Tonight, my twelve year old said, “I have a question about something that is really weird.”

Uh-oh.

“When you have your birthday, you will be 48 years old. That’s four times as old as me.”

Here we go.

“What does it feel like?”

“Creaky,” I responded, suddenly grumpy.

“I mean twelve years feels like a really, really long time. It must feel strange to live as long as you have.”

So I told him that it feels like you have led a few back-to-back separate lives, each as a totally different person with the others wrapped inside of you somehow. The first eighteen, then college and the twenties, then kids. It’s like it wasn’t you before, even though the previous you made you who you are now… and you remember every minute as if it just happened. Like you are still twelve. Not four times that.

“That’s so weird.”

“I know.”

Red Cards

One month into the school year, and our youngest already has a red card and four yellow cards – at least those are the ones to which he has admitted.

The first grade card system of discipline is notorious at his school, and often the focus of dinner conversations across town. Who got a red card today? What did he do? How many did you get when you were in first grade? The girls all got yellow cards! No boys? No boys!

Our oldest son managed to escape without a yellow or red, much to the chagrin of his teacher who believed that a little rebellion or silliness might show he was finally comfortable in his surroundings. In kindergarten, his only wrongdoing was in May, when he got caught eating his M&Ms before his lunch.

Our middle son made it through with only one yellow card awarded in late April for something he still insists “was the girls’ fault” – his logic for keeping his distance four years later.

But our youngest…

On Monday, he climbed into the car after school almost triumphant.

“Good day?” I asked.

“Yep!” he said proudly. “I didn’t get a red or yellow card. Just seven warnings, and they still didn’t change my card!”

“Seven warnings is worse than one yellow card!”

“But one of them wasn’t me. They just thought it was. So it’s really only six!”

First grade victory dance in the end zone.

If You Can’t Walk and Chew Gum…

I seem to be unable to walk my dog and deal with my cell phone at the same time.

Earlier this summer, the purple poop bag I was using to carry my cell phone split, and unbeknownst to me, the cell phone slipped through the hole. Lost for three hours.

Then yesterday, while my dog tugged mercilessly on the leash in a neighborhood suddenly overrun with bunnies, I decided to call my parents. Not smart if you “can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”.

As I was dialing and the dog was rabbit-obsessed, a large, low-hanging tree branch got in my way…

…right at eye level.

Forehead and nose scratched and completely dazed – “where did that tree come from?!” – I fell to the sidewalk.

My until-then wild dog came immediately over and sat until I picked up my cell phone and got back on my feet.

Between the dog, me and the phone…

The Bug Project: Extra Credit

My sixth grader’s science class is studying insects. They catch them live, freeze them, then pin them to a display board. They can now identify various moths and beetles, and are quite adept at describing metamorphosis, molting and more. They know about the emerald ash borer moving west across the U.S. and killing millions of tress. They know how delicate the dragonfly’s wings are and how hard to pin.

This weekend, my son brought home a movie to watch for extra credit. It was an hour and a half of bug-watching to music. The climax? Two snails making out to opera.

“Oh my god!” squealed the boys when they realized what they were watching.

At 8:30 p.m. after a busy day of soccer and Lego Club and playing at the park, I was certain we would last ten minutes. My eyelids drooped.

But they did not stay closed for long. The sixth grader was creating dialogue with different bug voices. The first grader egged him on, rolling across the bed, giggling.

And the fifth grader kept yelling “gross!” or “no way!” or “that’s sick!”

Who knew bugs could be so entertaining?!

We watched the entire movie.

Then this morning, drinking coffee while sitting with our dog outside, I watched a bee briefly touch each leaf that had fallen to the ground and heard my son’s funny bee voice say, “Darn, no pollen. I’m so thirsty!”

Modesty at Six and Three-Quarters

“You look handsome,” I said on Picture Day.

“I know,” he said.

“You’re Mommy’s awesome helper!”

“Yep.”

“Good reading!”

“I know.”

“Great soccer game. You played hard!”

“But I’m better at baseball. I’m probably going to play in the MLB.”

He doesn’t dwell. He doesn’t brag. He just hasn’t learned to doubt himself. Oh, to save that for later when he will need confidence and swagger.

The Flawed Timing of Fantasy Football

“Can Matt Ryan take a team to the Super Bowl?”

“How could you lose against the dog last week?”

“Why do I keep losing with that many points from Peyton? Is anyone else playing out there?!”

Distracted boys.

Globs of oatmeal on the kitchen table, spoons frozen mid-journey to debate rankings, Super Bowl chances, quarterback records, and fantasy teams.

Lots of 6 a.m. chatter.

“You lost to the dog again!”

“The Buccaneers are going down!”

Missing sports pages.

Thousands of “I just need to check my fantasy team” when they should be…
tying shoes
eating breakfast
memorizing vocabulary words
studying metamorphosis, maps, math and Mesopotamia
brushing teeth
practicing guitar
eating, playing, bathing, sleeping
listening to their mother…

…who wishes that football season and the start of school did not collide like this.