The Stars Were Out Tonight, and…

At dinner tonight, we watched the sun set over the water after exploding from behind a single cloud near the horizon.

We watched the lights come on along the quiet dock.

In a clear sky, we looked for constellations, the usual suspects but strikingly obvious. Big dipper. Orion…. A son’s sarcasm, “There are two stars in a line. They must be some god’s belt!”

While night came on, and my husband and I sipped our wine, our middle school sons debated the meaning of “infinitely small.”

Does “infinitely small” exist? Or do you eventually get to zero? Arms flailed. They argued during pasta and continued to debate over chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Their third grade brother jumped in with “as the universe expands, which it is always doing, what’s small gets smaller.”

I was impressed that he had the confidence to leap into the fray.

And then he grinned, “They think close to the box. I think way outside the box.”

“Seriously?” said the oldest, “I am measurable no matter what happens to the universe.”

And then the two older boys returned to their debate, stars winking at us, lights reflected in the water, and a warm breeze barely whispering above a calm sea.

When I was in middle school, we talked about tv shows, boys, politics. I do not remember considering the universe or its infinite possibilities.

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Post-Election Dinner Conversation

Tonight at dinner, we were debating the pros and cons of the electoral college and realized why Dad thinks so highly of it.

He is California. His vote counts for 55.

Our son, on dish duty, sighed, “And I’m clearly little old New Hampshire.”

Third Grade Interpretation of the Strumbellas

“I got guns in my head and they won’t go. Spirits in my head and they won’t go.”

Tonight, while his older brothers were doing the dishes to music, our third grader was thinking hard about lyrics playing by the Strumbellas. He doesn’t know it, but the album is entitled “Hope.”

“This song is about Abraham Lincoln,” he said.

“Really?”

“He wanted to end slavery, but really wanted for everyone to just get along. You know? The guns in his head wouldn’t go. And the spirits of all those soldiers.”

“I’ll be a dreamer ‘til the day I die.”

“And Lincoln,” my husband added, “was a dreamer.”

“Yeah, and the guns wouldn’t go. Get it?”

Not when I was in third grade!

Too Many Calvins, No Hobbes

At lunch today, our sixth grader quoted Calvin and Hobbes for the millionth time.

“It’s funny. Every time I build character, he saves a couple hundred bucks.”

He knows the comic strip so well that he can now take a real one (like that one) and alter it slightly to fit the current circumstance so that you don’t know if it’s Bill Waterson’s version or his. He uses it most often at the expense of his parents… always grinning… blue eyes twinkling… somehow coming off as innocent… like Calvin.

Laughing, I pointed out that the benefit of reading the same thing over and over is that you can quote it at just the right moment.

“That’s because Calvin and Hobbes is the perfect guide to childhood,” added his big brother.

“Many before you would say that’s what the Bible is for,” said Dad.

“But you are such a Calvin,” we all agreed of the sixth grader.

“What about me?” asked his little brother.

“You’re Calvin too.”

“Then who’s Hobbes?”

Silence.

“Dad?”

Nope. Another Calvin at the table.

The Certainty of Youth

My sons have never:

  • Voted
  • Voted for a winning candidate and regretted it later
  • Voted for a losing candidate on principle
  • Voted for the lesser of evils
  • Aligned with a political party
  • Voted for the loser and the winner turned out to be outstanding

That’s why I miss half of what is said in this winter’s increasingly heated political debates – my kids won’t shut up. They opine through every minute of every debate.

At twelve and thirteen, they are the color commentary. Opinionated. Sarcastic. Utterly confident that they know best. Eager to comment on anything – the candidates’ ties, their hair, their intellect.

“He doesn’t know anything about the Klu Klux Klan?!”

They borrow catch-phrases from adults, other twelve year olds, ad campaigns on the side of a bus as if they were time-tested facts.

Sometimes I shush them, “I want to hear this.”

But most of the time, I like listening to them.

“He’s a crook.”

“She’s a liar.”

“He’s a socialist, and socialism never worked anywhere, any time.”

“I mean, mom, he’s going a build a wall?! He might as well take down the Statue of Liberty while he’s at it.”

Unable to hear what the candidates are saying above the din of my boys’ joyful, humorous political certainty, I remember a day when I was sure I had all the answers… and voting was easy.

 

Last Night’s Quotes at My House

“Yep, I need my own laptop. Yes, I do,” said the seventh grader who is not getting his own laptop. He often mumbles it under his breath as he passes me in the kitchen, on the stairs, going to bed at night.

“Did Jeb Bush win?” asked my second grader, who chose Jeb for President after watching one of the early Republican debates. “His speech was so good and he sounds like a really nice guy. He should win.” A future political talk show host.

“One on one conversations with alcohol are my wheelhouse,” said my husband. “I’ve trained for them my whole life.”

That’s just one night.