The Kiss of Alyss

Her lips on his were incredibly, indescribably soft.

I am almost done reading Book One of The Ranger’s Apprentice to my ten-year-old. As the youngest of three boys, he sometimes needs a little extra love. So, although he could read it himself, we’ve been snuggling and reading together about Will’s training, adventure, and climatic battle with the terrifying Kalkara.

Our teenager, who read the series several years ago, sneaks in nightly, lying across my feet at the end of the bed – or blocking the lamplight for a back-scratch – to listen too. I should have known when he corrected my pronunciation of her name that the gray-eyed girl was more important than her sudden spotlight on page 236 let on.

Alyss.

We weren’t expecting a kiss.

Her lips on his were incredibly, indescribably soft.

Silence as I closed the book, leaving the final chapter for tomorrow. Then…

Seriously?!” the ten-year-old’s eyes sparkled, “That’s it? It’s indescribable?!”

“After all the amazing descriptions of the torch flames as they raced through the woods, and the Kalkara’s claws, and the sound of its screams,” he ranted, “the kiss is indescribable?!”

“You might as well skip the kiss if that’s all you’re going to say about it! Indescribable? Ridiculous?!”

Apparently, we need to hear more from Miss Alyss in Book Two.

 

 

 

 

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Nelson Efamehule Agholor

When my 8th grader made his announcement, he did not utter the words we expected to hear. Instead, he said “Nelson Agholor. That’s my answer,” and walked out of the room with a grin on his face.

He waited until the evening before his enrollment letter was due at one of the high schools he was considering to finalize his decision. Go to the school that seems a little shinier, a little bigger? Or follow his brother?

“I’ll tell you at dinner.” So, I made his favorite steak and mashed potatoes to celebrate Decision Night.

Then… “I want to be eating ice cream when I tell you.”

We waited. Maybe he was nervous. Our 9th grader was holding his breath, hoping…

“Four score and seven years ago,” the 8th grader began.

“Remember, that was a short speech,” his Dad said.

He stopped. “Nelson Agholor.”

What? Who? 

We had to look him up. Nelson Agholor, born in Nigeria, is a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. Not the most famous NFLer, in 2017, he became a league leader in third down receptions and made some of the best, most important catches of the Eagles’ season.

The Eagles.

Only our 8th grader would turn his announcement into a sports challenge.

He chose to be with his brother…. but admitted to a second-string NBA point guard picked out for the other school, just in case he changed his mind in the moment.

Best Friends

With Christmas Break at its half-way point, our guys were starting to pick on, and at, each other. Sarcasm laced dinner conversation. It was annoying. So, we challenged them to be nice for 24 hours. Every time we caught them being mean to one another, or sarcastic about the other, they paid me a dollar to help pay for a dinner out.

I was named, “the arbiter of niceness.”

In less than fifteen minutes, our ninth grader accumulated $7 in debt to the bucket. The eighth grader was lawyering up, as he tends to do, debating his $3. The fourth grader was grinning at $2.

And “best two dollars I ever spent,” said my husband as the dishes were cleared.

The funny thing is that our eighth grader is trying to decide whether to go to the high school he thinks he likes best, or the one his big brother goes to. It is a tough choice for him, because academics matter to him… a lot.

But they are each other’s best friends. We cannot imagine them apart. We cannot imagine one going through high school without the other. They will lift each other up, quietly in the background of any picture. The presence of one will inspire the other to engage.

When they were in elementary school, they walked the carpool line at the end of the day, each at their own speed. I remember feeling sad that the one didn’t race to catch up with the other even if both dragged along the sidewalk alone. And I remember that as soon as they were both in middle school, that changed. They were suddenly always side by side, sometimes with friends weaving in and out between them, sometimes not. I loved watching them talk as they approached the car, wondering what had them so animated until they spilled in, long legs and too-heavy backpacks, both talking at once.

They are not the same. They operate at completely different speeds, the one always begging the other to play football or basketball, and the other begging for peace. They perceive the world through their own lenses – different sports teams, politics, favorite classes, favorite foods, humor. And often watching them, we think that if we blended their opposites into one person, they would be absolutely unbeatable as they move through this world.

Together, despite the $10 of mean fees earned quickly at the dinner table, they are amazing. I hope it Is not long before they understand and celebrate how very rare – how important – their friendship is. Maybe in time to choose a high school.

Questions of Faith on Christmas Eve

Walking out of mass on Christmas Eve, our son asked, “Why wasn’t I baptized?”

Then before I could answer… “I don’t really know what I believe.”

I slipped my hand in his as we walked down the snow-covered street to the car.

“I know I believe that Jesus was a man, and he was good, and he was God’s son. But,” the 10-year-old sighed deeply, “the story of Noah’s Ark confuses me.”

“Why?”

“It doesn’t make sense that the whole world got destroyed, then one guy with a few animals started it all over from scratch.”

Imperfect Treats for Santa

Our 10-year-old wrote a note to Santa last night.

Dear Santa, here are some treats for you and your reindeer. Merry Christmas!

We only had a few snowman-shaped half-cookies left, and I was adding the obligatory carrots to the platter for Rudolph and crew, when he put his hand on my arm to stop me. “Wait!” from such a serious face, “You need to wash them first!”

Then when no one was looking, he added to the note to address the broken cookies.

Sorry the heads got bitten off.

He’s right. Santa deserves better than half-eaten cookies and unwashed carrots. We’ll do better next year.

Mom’s Silence is Not So Golden

The other day, when I picked up my high school freshman from school, I had a lot on my mind. I guess I was quiet.

About five minutes into the drive, he said, “Well, this is awkward!”

“What?”

“It’s really weird that you’re not asking me a hundred annoying questions about my day.”

“But you complain when I ask you questions about your day.”

“It’s better than this! What’s wrong?!”

I smiled. “Anything cool going on at school?”

“Oh my God, you are so annoying!”