The Nerd and the Space Pirate

Last week, on the way home from instrument lessons, my ninth grader was extolling the joys of looking at leaves under a microscope. He described the different things he saw and was practically bragging to his fellow travelers about how much fun he is having in Biology Lab.

Our eighth grade friend commented from the back seat, “I don’t really like school that much.”

“You must have a favorite class,” replied my doubting son.

“Well, I guess I would say Social Studies, but…”

“Then you have to take AP Human Geography. That’s what I’m taking right now and…” he launched into a soliloquy about all the fascinating things he has learned. He went on and on and…

Again, from the eighth grader in the back seat, “Seriously though, if you want to be smarter socially, you need to stop talking like this.”

Undeterred, the socially clueless ninth grader followed with, “Then what do you want to be when you grow up if you don’t like to learn about anything?!”

Silence. Then, “A space pirate.”

A few days later, as if he’d been pondering the conversation since then, my ninth grader confided, “He’d actually be a really good space pirate. He’ll just have to like Astronomy.”


An Elevator in the Kitchen

There’s a story whirling around in my head that I can’t write because I need to finish another one first.

I was thinking about how there are certain kids, when they come to our house, who are drawn to our laundry shoot. Most houses don’t have one. So, they are enthralled by it. Happy to spend their time just throwing things from the second floor to the basement. Stuffed animals mostly. Or they invent games where one kid throws a ball down the shoot, and the others stand in our laundry room and try to catch it.

Maybe not enough for a story, but…

When I was growing up, my best friend had an elevator in her kitchen.

It was creaky. You pulled a metal gate across before it would go up. And when she pushed the button, I was always a little nervous it would stop mid-route. We’d stare through the gate and watch the drywall beyond it moving, holding our breath a little until it jerked to a stop. At least that’s how I remember it.

I think, if the picture in my head is right, they sometimes stored a few cases of Coke in there.

I have yet to be in another house with an elevator. And I think of the boys at my house, running up and down two flights of stairs, through the kitchen a hundred times during their invented laundry shoot games. How magical my friend’s creaky elevator would seem to them!

Which gave me an idea.

There’s a story whirling around in my head…

What I Love About 10

Today is Pajama Day at school, and while our middle school son wore sweats and a favorite Falcons t-shirt, no different than any other day, our 10-year-old strutted into school proudly sporting his flannel Snoopy Christmas pajamas.

Bright green. Snoopy. Charlie Brown. Woodstock.

Not a care in the world. No thought of “cool” or “not cool”.

Just lovin’ his PJs.

Struttin’ into 4th grade.


Middle School Spirit Week

It was a four-day week, a week to inspire school spirit at the boys’ school.

Tuesday, wear your favorite sports team jersey.

My eighth grader said, “Julio Jones.”

Wednesday, pajamas.

His other Falcons’ jersey. “Julio Jones.”

Thursday, wear something that represents your favorite fictional character – movie or book.

“Nope, Julio Jones.”

And finally Friday, blue or gold. School colors. School spirit.

What am I going to wear?!”

Julio doesn’t do blue.




Goodbye, Sticker Chart

In mid-fall, our fourth grader was having trouble controlling his emotions and his desire to be chatty at school. So, we started a sticker chart to get him through.

As he walked down the carpool line, I always knew by his body language whether he had earned the sticker or not. And he was very honest about it. “Nope!” he would announce without me having to ask, and then launch into the story of that day’s misadventure.

After 20 stickers, he could purchase an under-$20 prize. The first 20 were tough, but he got there. Then we raised it to 30 stickers. That round went too fast, and I kept forgetting that he hadn’t received his second reward.

Yesterday, two months since we’ve even looked at the sticker chart, he reminded me that he was owed.

The he put his hand gently on my arm, “But this is the last. I don’t need stickers anymore.”


The Collector

People collect stamps. Stickers. Thimbles. Seashells. Antiques. Rocks in the shape of a heart. Little porcelain animals. Art. Legos.

Our fifteen-year-old son collects boxes. Specifically, the boxes that package Apple products.

“They’re really nice boxes,” he explained when I noticed his collection – all white with the Apple insignia – in his room.

This is not, apparently, a passing fancy. He’s been collecting them for a few years. I only noticed because they are now stacked on his desk. MacBook Pro, iPad Air, iPhone, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s. Even the little box an iPhone Lightning Dock came in.

“One day, these are going to be really valuable.”

But they’re boxes?!

“Yes… Apple boxes!”


The Last Therapy Session

He’s been seeing her because of an uncontrollable rage that began in kindergarten when he hit a friend with a toy truck in the sandbox. The little girl needed stitches. In first grade, his teacher would bring him down to the basement to kick a beanbag chair. By third grade, therapy had helped him transfer his anger from his fists and his feet to his words… and I received a number of reports of him screaming in a wild rage at his teachers for not understanding him, siding with his classmates, not listening.

He morphed from the class Buddha one day to a whirlwind of anger and self-doubt the next.

But he’s a fourth grader now. Importantly, he has a couple of best friends who he seems to have figured out will stick by him when things get rough. The rage is thawing.

So, I wasn’t surprised when his therapist said at the end of yesterday’s session that he doesn’t need to see her anymore. “Let’s move to an as-needed basis.”

The funny thing was that she didn’t “re-neg” when he told her about Christmas Eve – and an unique experience he’s been sharing boldly for almost a month now.

“I saw Santa!”

She didn’t understand at first. “At the mall? Downtown?”

“The real one. I woke up in the middle of the night and forgot it was Christmas, and I thought I heard something downstairs. So, I went down,” his eyes sparkled and his smile lit up like a Christmas tree., “and there he was!”

She grinned back, trying not to look at me. “Wowwwww! Did you say anything?”

“Nope, I didn’t want to get in trouble. So, I tiptoed back upstairs.”

“He didn’t see you?”

“I am very good at sneaking around.” So proud.

“I have never heard of anyone actually getting to see him. You are the luckiest kid in the world,” then with a vigorous nod from him, she transitioned, “So, did you get anything good?”

He listed his presents. A small drone. A t-shirt from his favorite Youtube channel. A game called Timeline. But when she asked which one was his favorite…

“Seeing Santa! That’s the best gift anyone could ask for!”