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!”

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

On Thursday, our eighth grader didn’t talk for two hours after school because he had screwed up on a Math quiz.  But the next day was Friday. Nothing can bring him down at 3:00 on Friday, and the afternoon car ride tends to be full of his chatter.

You know Seinfeld’s show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”? He should drive with my kids. Rename his show “Comedians in Cars Eating Kit-Kats.”

Yesterday, the grumpy one was ready when his older brother punted him an easy one. “Can you believe Apple is worth over $800 billion?”

“So what? I’m going to make more than a trillion,” was the quick response.

“How?” challenged the punter.

“Well….” having shed his school-week gloom, he grinned, “I already own the Illuminati. The problem is, no one will ever be rich enough to buy it from me. So I’m a bit cash-strapped.”

“You could go public,” I joined in. “Then everyone could buy stock.”

Gasps all around.

“You can’t go public with the Illuminati! The public doesn’t even know we’re real!”

Then he went through which Presidents and celebrities are members, and which are “persons of interest,” usually for bad reasons. Trump and Kanye West both persons of interest.

“Was Steve Jobs a member?”

“Person of interest. He was kind of weird about stuff.”

“That guy who founded the Mormons? John Smith?”

“A little crazy.”

“Ronald Reagan?” As good as Apple in the mind of the eldest.

“That was my predecessor’s time. I wouldn’t know.”

They kept laughing.

“And then that stupid Youtuber, PewDiePie. Definitely a person of interest. Tells everyone our corporate headquarters are in Israel. I always thought that was too obvious anyway. My predecessor’s choice. But still! Then I had to move us, and that cost me a couple hundred million.”

“Where did you move?”

“I can’t tell you that!”

“Come on!”

“Somewhere no one is ever going to bomb. Or even think of.”

“Canada?”

“Exactly. That would be like kicking your dog. But don’t tell anyone. It’s top secret.”

“Well,” bringing it around, “I still think you can’t beat Apple.”

Practicing Being “Cool” with the Grown-Ups

Apparently, our fourteen year old was chatting with a friend of mine. She had recently purchased a Wii and was asking what games he and his brothers play. The only better topics to get him going is “which Apple product do you recommend?” and “how about them Packers?””

He explained that he and his brothers mostly pay sports games, especially football. Madden 15. Madden 17. Madden anything. But then he told her about another game, one of the war games he likes.

“That’s the game that if I’m awake at two in the morning, I go down to the basement with a bowl of chips and a coke and play by myself.”

Now, I will admit he is a light sleeper. But this is a kid who never goes in the basement at night. He certainly doesn’t go down at 2 a.m. Alone.

And he’s never had a coke in his life.

Too cool.

An Empty Library

My son is looking at high schools. He has visited two of five schools so far, and it strikes me with each visit that what excites him most makes me wary.

After the first: “I could go to Chipotle every single day for lunch!”

And…“everyone carries their phones around everywhere, even into class!”

After the second: “I only saw one device that wasn’t an Apple product!”

And… “no one uses their lockers because there are no textbooks. They’re totally digital!”

And then when I walked into the old library, there wasn’t a single book. The tour guide said, ”When we realized that only three books were checked out one entire year, we turned the library into a resource center.”

Schools with no books. Makes me sad.

Will Work for Apple Products

It is tough to know what will motivate a thirteen year old boy. For our oldest, we have learned, it requires a lightning-strike-blue-moon combination of something he really wants and a task he thinks worthy of his effort. I used to worry that such a mystical thing did not exist. I was wrong.

He will cheerfully do farm work – hours of it – for an iPad.

Prior to our trip to Grandma’s farm, he decided he needed an iPad. We decided he needed to pay for it himself. So Grandma promised to pay him for field labor. He boasted of five-hour days in the hot sun, heavy lifting. Given the state of his room, we were doubtful.

We arrived at midnight on Saturday, and he woke early Sunday ready to get going. But Sunday at Goose Hill Farm is reserved for reading the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. We toured the property – new leases, new projects. We discussed plans for a maple-tapping venture. We met the new baby chickens, ducks and turkeys. Watered the vegetable garden from a bucket and working well. The boys rode the ATVs.

It was a slow, easy morning. But as we walked back to the house for lunch, our son grinned proudly, “only three hours of work to go!”

The concept of “work” clearly had to be redefined. Ten minutes of watering plants? Yes. Two hours riding ATVs across the gorgeous countryside? No.

“Then what can I do?!”

Day Two. Fed the birds. Collected eggs. Watered gardens. Hauled logs. Helped clear fields and put out a very dramatic brush fire. Transported tools. Drove the tractor. Wrote out his invoice. Five hours of real work.

Day Three. Up, dressed and out to the chicken coop while the coffee was still brewing. He is a boy transformed.