Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in…

My thirteen year old son is the master of surprising conversations.

“Did you know that Neil DeGrasse Tyson still gets hate mail for saying Pluto isn’t a planet?”

Out of no where.

“He gets letters from second graders who are really pissed.”

Then he started listing Jupiter’s moons. Callisto, Europa, Themisto…

“Is that what makes a planet? Size and its own moons?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Venus might not have a moon. But Venus is like Hell.”

A moment of quiet. Then…

“So what was it like when you menstruated for the first time?”

Interesting segue. “I had no idea what to do.”

“But how did you feel? Did it make you sad you were leaving your childhood?”

“I didn’t realize I was.”

“Good thing it only happens once a month,” said Mister-Everything-I-Need-to-Know-I-Learned-in-Sixth-Grade-Science.

“Yes, but it lasts an entire week.”

“Are you serious?! That’s horrible!” Pause. “You must be glad you’ve had menopause then.”

“I haven’t, but you will know when I do. I’ll keep turning on the air conditioning.”

“Good. It’s ridiculous how you’re always cold.”




To Each His Unique Mind

My three boys are all very different from one another. They process the world n their unique ways. Their minds pause on very different things, as shown by snippets of conversation with each from the same day last weekend.

The Fifth Grader

“Dad, why don’t most people notice that the sky is a different, darker blue at the top than it is near the horizon?”

The Fourth Grader (while helping in the yard)

“Mom, it’s not fair that grown-ups get paid more than kids for doing the exact same job.”

“Well, you’re paying adults for their experience, stronger muscles, more school.”

“But I can do anything you can,” he said, as I suffered the three leaves he picked up for every fourth armload of mine making it into our trashcan, “and if you paid someone else to do it, I’d bet you’d pay him a hundred dollars.”

The Kindergartner

“Mom, me and my friends were giving each other wedgies at school today. Do you want me to give you one?”

“No, thanks.”

“But it is soooo funny!”

Buddhism from a Nine Year Old

Last night, on the way home from the pool, I answered my nine year old’s “Mom, guess what” expecting to hear about the latest level he’d conquered on Skylanders or the hilarious Garfield comic strip he’d just read. Instead, I got this:

“Mom, guess what.”


“Buddhists believe that you have lots of lives, and you start out bad in your first one and get better each time until you are perfect in your last life.”

“I didn’t know that. How many lives do they get?” I asked.

“Probably 50.”

“100 probably,” argued the four year old from his booster in the backseat, likely aware he needs quite a few more before he turns good.

“Does everyone get the same number of lives?” I asked.

The nine year old thought about it. “I just know they have lots.”

“I don’t believe it,” said the eight year old contrarian. “You get one chance. If you’re a bad guy, you’re a bad guy.”

The nine year old defended himself, “I don’t know if they’re right or wrong. I’m just saying…what they believe.”

“Then what life would you be on?” asked the eight year old.

“I don’t know.”

“Four,” shouted the four year old.

That made the nine year old think again, “Probably fifteen then.”

Technology and Kids

I keep reading editorials in the New York Times and other sources of news that bemoan the effect that technology is having on our children. Children are no longer able to converse, don’t look us in the eye, are more violent, cannot relate to each other. I am pretty sure that our parents’ generation read the same types of things about television when we were little.

However, as a parent, I struggle with age appropriateness regarding access to certain technological tools, as well as to the Internet. At what age should they get this? How closely do I monitor that? How do I empower my kids to benefit from the amazing things that technology will do for them without turning them into violent zombies incapable of carrying on a conversation with me, or their future spouse, or teachers or friends.

I put my thoughts down, and they were posted on Yahoo Voices at http://voices.yahoo.com/technology-kids-evolution-conversation-11275158.html.