A Trip to the Bank

I brought our 16-year-old to get a cashier’s check to pay the auto repair shop for damage he inflicted on his car. When we walked inside the bank, he whispered, “This is so nice!”

It’s a regular bank branch. Large. Corporate looking. Nothing fancy. Muted elevator music. 

Still half-way across the room, a friendly teller called out, “How can I help you?”

The only other teller disappeared. The chairs opposite the financial experts who get their own desks were all empty.

I thought how absolutely bored they must be. The teller. The financial expert. 9 to 5. The white sound of air conditioning. An occasional customer. Then back to the quiet in that big room.

The smiling teller handed us the check.

Then with a last sweeping look, my son sighed, “What a nice place to work. It’s so peaceful.”

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Last Year’s Baseball Uniform

Our fourth grade son is about to begin another baseball season.

“You probably need new baseball pants, but your cup was too big last year. So….”

“I grew a lot.”

“That doesn’t mean your penis grew a lot.”

“Oh my god, Mom!” Big belly laugh. “I can’t believe you said that!”

Best laugh I got so far in 2018. Such a comedian.

My Driver, Miss Daisy

Our son with the learner’s permit needs to log another 35 hours before he turns 16. So, he drove me to school this morning. Twenty-three minutes.

He noticed that I kept peeking in the passenger side mirror.

“Mom, there’s no one behind me. You’ve got to chill.”

A few minutes later…

“It’s so weird, no one has been behind me the whole ride. I’m killin’ it.”

“They’re all passing you in the other lane.”

“No, they’re not,” as yet another car zoomed past. Then, “Oh.”

“Driving below the speed limit is just as disruptive as driving too fast. Especially during rush hour, when people are rushing.”

“So, you’re calling me Grandma?”

Cherishing 15

The other night, just as my husband and I were settling peacefully into bed, our son ran into the room, climbed over me…

Ouch!

…and burrowed under the blankets between us.

“So…” he grinned with our blue quilt pulled up to his chin, “what should we talk about?”

He’s about six feet, 170 pounds. A size 13 shoe. Not many kids with their learner’s permit still snuggle. But every once in a while, we get this kind of funny, sweet moment.

So, we talk, savoring the moment. And we laugh, wondering to ourselves how it’s possible our little guy is already 15.

Like Grandfather, Like Grandson

My eighth grader, typically an A student, received a C- on his notecards for a research paper on World War Two. He reads a lot and loves history, so his knowledge about the subject before the unit was already fairly impressive. The teacher said he hadn’t followed the instructions regarding the sources to be used. He relied too heavily on a single source, which might lead to bias.

True. A good lesson for my son…. maybe.

I read the 75+ notecards, which were full and demonstrated knowledge of the topic, but he did rely heavily on one source – a rather long book that most of his classmates wouldn’t have bothered to muddle through. He had more than double the number of notecards required (or matched by most of his classmates). Had he completely erased this book from the project, he would have still had enough other sources, notecards, and information.

Hmmm.

But after days of stewing on his behalf, I remembered a story my father told me. It involved another history lesson and a teacher whose name he remembers even now.

My Dad, according to the tale, was taking a high school essay exam for a class that covered the American Revolution to Teddy Roosevelt. The final essay was to list any books (and the authors) he had read that addressed that timeframe. Excited to share, he went straight to that essay, and was so absorbed in making his list that he barely had time to complete the rest of the test.

He listed 57 books and their authors.

Like my son and his C-, if you’re a rule-follower, his grandfather should have bombed the test. But his teacher, the one whose name stays with him now that he is a grandfather, was so tickled to have a student that passionate about reading and history, that he upped his grade to a B.

When I first heard that story, as a girl who was very good at following directions, I remember thinking, “what kind of ding-dong does that?”

My father. My son.

And even though the “ding-dong question” still hangs in the air, I love that they are both so passionate about books and history.

Another lesson: history, at least in families, repeats itself.

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.”

When He Grows Up, He Will Be…

Yesterday, as our family walked through the airport, I realized something had changed. Our oldest, who usually moves a step slower than the rest of us, was walking ahead of his younger brothers and me. He wasn’t whispering to me at the back of the line “I’m tired” or “I hate airports.” I wasn’t whispering back, “keep up with Dad”, because….

…he was walking at a fast clip with Dad.

Father and son moved through the airport together, stride for stride, in lively conversation, making each other laugh. Two peas in a pod.

They share a goofy humor tinged occasionally with wit and old soul. They compete over technology purchases and know-how. Our son has adopted his father’s odd mix of political opinions, peppered with a splattering of mismatched ideas of his own.

Over the last fourteen years, I have often thought that they are happy with each other, so non-judgmental, because they are nothing alike. I was wrong. Watching their backs, their easy comfort in each other’s presence, I caught a glimpse of the adult he is becoming.

Like father, like son.