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.

Advertisements

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!”

Going, Going, Gone with the Wind

For fun yesterday, my son’s Honors Math teacher gave her students the opportunity to bet extra credit points based on their movie knowledge. They each bet a certain number of points – my son luckily one of the more conservative gamblers – and then she asked her trivia question.

“What’s the highest grossing film of all time?”

No one got it. No one had even seen it.

“But,” my all-knowing son informed me, “Star Wars: A New Hope is going to pass it soon. No one has even heard of Gone with the Wind.”

What?!

“Kids my age don’t even know what it’s about.”

“Scarlet O’Hara? Southern belle? Civil War? Land is the most important thing?”

He shrugged.

So, I asked, innocently, “Which one was A New Hope?”

What!? The original.”

“Well, we just called it Star Wars.”

“You are so old.”

“At least I’ve seen the highest grossing movie of all time.”

Almost as many times as we’ve both seen Star Wars. But who’s counting? And anyway…

“I can’t think about this now. I’ll go crazy if I do. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

How to Have a Happy 15-Year-Old

These days, there are two guaranteed ways that I can make my teenage son happy.

The first, I practice almost daily. I bring the dog with me when I pick him up from school. No matter how grumpy he looks as he approaches the car, he is transformed if, when he opens the car door, the dog’s face is there ready to give him a good face-licking. Then, instead of sighing about homework or telling me I ask too many questions, he spends the ride home smiling in the rearview mirror and telling me how cute the dog is.

I learned the second way today. The hard way.

The second way I can make him happy is by screwing up… and getting caught.

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

Yes, I got a speeding ticket, cop motorcycle lights flashing, my son grinning ear-to-ear in the passenger seat, and the dog wagging her tail. Apparently, this was exciting for both of them.

As the police officer wrote out my $160 fine for going 33 in a 20MPH school zone (ooops!), my fifteen-year-old laughed heartily. “This is absolutely awesome!”