In a House of Boys

I made a big batch of Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

By bedtime, they were gone. And the eleven-year-old was eating ice cream.

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On Pi Day

At dinner tonight, our high school freshman quizzed us on Pi. 

3.14159….

That’s as far as I got, and I was pleased. He can go much longer.

So, we challenged him, because he likes to brag that he has the prologue to Romeo and Juliet memorized as well.

Can you do them both at the same time?

He gave us a funny look, as he considered, then…. slowly…

3.14159… 2 houses both alike in dignity….6535897932… in fair Verona where we lay our scene….38462… from ancient grudge break to new mutiny…60433832…where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

He grinned, bowed his head, and finished with, “Two things everyone should memorize. At least twenty digits of Pi and some Shakespeare.”

At Last

They were calling it “snowmageddon” days before it hit. And days after we spent hours trying to avoid “avalanche activity”. So, the snow day was called early. As students headed to after-school practices and rehearsals the day before its arrival, a roar of joy rang through the halls.

I was there. It was loud. But I missed seeing my own kids get the news they spent all winter waiting for.

Yesterday, they had already proclaimed the snow day a great one. Survived skiing the jump they built midway down a short hill that ends in a creek. Played a two-hour game of Risk. Drank hot chocolate.

Then just before dinner, our ninth grader started screaming, jumping around the kitchen, arms flapping. An email from his math teacher regarding “a second snow day” was followed immediately by a text from the District. Power outages. Slick parking lots. State of emergency.

This time, I witnessed their response.

Two teenage boys playing air guitar. Belting out Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” 

Looking Good, Dude

Our 11-year-old son’s 2019 New Year’s Resolution was to run on the treadmill two days a week, and to lift weights three days. As we enter month two of 2019, he has hit the treadmill three or four times, and the weights two or three.

Definitely more than his 2018 totals.

So he stood at the side of our bed, shirtless, potbelly touching the bedspread, and grinned proudly, “my six-pack is starting.”

Sacrifice to the Snow God

When they were younger and praying for a snow day did not seem enough of a guarantee, our boys invented their own ritual. Now 16, 15, and 11, and every local news outlet predicted blizzard conditions for the next morning’s commute, it triggered a buzz of excitement.  Snow Day.They suddenly weren’t tired. Snow Day.A sparkle in their eyes as they planned their sledding adventure, their snowman, their snowball fight down in the park. Snow Day.

And finally, because the ritual requires that you do it right before heading to bed the night before the storm, they each got a handful of ice cubes and marched together into the bathroom. There, they huddled around the toilet, dropped the ice in, and flushed. Snow Day.

The theory is that the ice will travel below the streets and magically encourage an above-ground freezing that cannot melt or get plowed in time for morning rush hour. School will haveto be cancelled even by the most resistant headmaster or school district. 

This time, they were sure, it would work. Snow Day.

Bimpnottin Nackle

In our middle school carpool many years ago, I rode daily with three neighborhood boys who played Dungeons and Dragons. Unable to follow their strange conversations, I looked out the window or chatted with their mom, who was lovely and worked at our school.

I thought the game disappeared with our generation, until my sons went to high school, and I read they had a Dungeons and Dragons club there. 

My kids remind me a little of the boys in that long-ago carpool. “You might like it?”

The shook their heads. Rolled their eyes.

Then our fifth grader announced that his friend was learning to play with hisDad, and out came my husband’s Dungeons and Dragons books. As father and youngest son perused the books, our teenagers hovered, reading too and, at first, cautiously admitting, “this is soooo nerdy, but reallyfun.”

They created their characters: a cleric, a human fighter, an elf with magical powers, and a dragon-born ranger. And they started on their first adventure with Dad, the cleric, as the lead.

And then it happened, as it inevitable does… 

“Mom, you should play,” said the sixteen-year-old.

And just as I joined Fantasy Football in this house of boys, I am now Bimpnottin Nackle, a Forest Gnome from the Druid Class. I can talk to animals. I am wise. In my first move, I bought a spear and a dagger. I can cast goodberry and longstrider spells, although I am not yet sure how I do either. 

I have no idea what the adventure I am joining will bring, or what Bimpnottin Nackle will do in the heat of battle, but after nearly 40 years, I give up. Let the game begin!

It’s Time to Do the Puzzle

.Last night, the family attended a Boxing Day Junkanoo, a colorful, musical street parade in the Bahamas. At 9:00 p.m., just as the floats approached where we stood against a white fence, and the horns and drums and flashing lights with them, my 87-year-old father-in-law suddenly didn’t look good. Didn’t feel good. 

My husband ran to get the golf cart. I ducked through the crowd in the opposite direction, across the street, looking for someone selling water though I had no money. I returned just ahead of the first float.

But what struck me most about the evening took place once we are all back in the quiet of the house. Grandpa was fine and resting in bed. That day, he had walked two-miles on the beach, spent another hour sitting in the sun, shared in the wine at dinner, then joined us in the Junkanoo crowd. He just needed rest. But we remained concerned, a little on edge, adrenaline still high from what had looked like an emergency.

And in that moment of what-do-we-do-now, our sixteen-year-old shined. It might sound silly to notice it as an important moment to anyone who has not watched him grow up. But…

He walked over to the puzzle, its edges completed by the rest of us earlier in the day while he played Clash of the Clans on his phone. He has never enjoyed puzzles. Not sure he has ever worked on one. But he saw that, despite the late hour, Grandma wasn’t ready for bed. 

“Well, Grandma,” he offered, “I think it’s time to do the puzzle.”

He did it so gracefully, so easily that no one but me noticed what he’d done. He is becoming such a sweet, good man.

She sat down opposite him, and they got to work, him chatting to her mostly, and celebrating each connection until she grew tired and said goodnight.