Dad is out of town, traveling for work. L and I swing by a local pizza joint for a to-go pie. We look up and there he is…
The Great and Powerful Oz. No, not the guy behind the curtain. The one who has a television show which, up until yesterday, I’d never seen.
The subtitles are flying by, (phonetically spelled, always a plus for a kid), and suddenly we realize this Great and Powerful Oz is talking about the dangers of eating (too much) red meat, the alarming rate of salmonella in poultry, not over-indulging in calcium…
Animated visuals are showing platelets zipping through the bloodstream like pinballs, an ominous buildup of plaque. Ultimately, we see a heart cease to beat (in cartoon, natch).
L: “Ack! I don’t think I’m going to eat red meat anymore. I barely do anyway.”
L: “Is hamburger considered red meat?”
L: “What did it say about turkey?”
L: “So milk is bad? Should I stop taking my vitamins?”
I do what any good, responsible parent would: I pull out my iPhone and command him to play.
L has been thrown off the scent.
All I can think is “The Exorcist” might have been less traumatic.
Epiphany! I’ve come up with a television show that will be spot on for L. The O.G. “Star Trek.” Campy, science-y, funny, action-y, and most importantly, no blood.
I begin describing when it was made (“Did they even have television back then?”), and that it’s an awesome, cool show that I think he’ll like. I zero in on “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode because it’s… well, of course, it’s my favorite. Cute, furry little creatures (they could be easily itty bitty wee ponies, little girl crack).
We start watching a 10 minute segment and L says, “This is silly. This is not anything like the new one. The special effects are lame.”
I am bereft.
Cue to later in the afternoon. I pick L up from school. He has a drawing in his hand.
WHAT? CAN IT BE? YES! (Fist pump.)
The drawing is a schematic rendering of a Tribble, their size, the sounds they make, “fun facts.” I’m elated. (And, I forgive his spelling errors.)
We get home and he says, “say, can we watch the whole episode? I realize something. I think the old Star Trek is cooler than the new one. Because you get to see people’s expressions and Spock is awesome and really smart.”
I have done my job.
We have a mandate in our house: Always tell the truth. You will not be punished for telling the truth. There may be consequences, but telling the truth is paramount.
Okay, got that outta the way.
How about bending the truth?
I’m not proud about this, but these things that may occur in the near future:
–L’s Nerf gun may “go missing.” (A pox on them… Yeah, I’m a chick, I don’t get it.)
–L’s Hoodie, (which I wisely purchased in white and is now stained, soiled, disgusting no matter how many times I wash it) may get “lost” on laundry day.
–L’s newest pet, Tofu the Tadpole, may end up going through his metamorphosis “outside.” In a bucket. (He seems so cute now. In a few weeks he’ll be a giant, loud, jumping all over the place bullfrog. Not gonna happen.)
–The ‘Captain Underpants’ Opus may be “donated.” (They’re past tense at this point. Why not share the love?)
Walk the talk takes a pause.
Or, riding in the car with me.
After reading several reports on the state of education and feeling dismayed, I thought, I’ll go straight to the source: L.
(Okay, so I don’t think L really wants to talk about education at the end of a long school day. Then again, he’s buckled into the back seat. He’s all mine.)
M: How was school?
L: “It was good. Overall, a good day.”
M: Did anything stand out for you?
L: “I got to read with my kindergarten reading buddy. That was awesome.”
(I have a specific question in mind. I’m gonna cut to the chase.)
M: How do you know you’re doing well in school?
L: “Because I know the answers.”
M: (ACK) If you have to choose between knowing the answer, or how you got the answer, which one?
L: How. Definitely how. Because then I can figure out other stuff.
The state (of education) rests.
L and I walked to school today. We were discussing games we would invent. I rambled on about my Greek Myth-based adventure wherein the player meets each of the gods and must answer riddles, solve problems, and, sure we can throw in a duel (not really), to move ahead. I ginned up some poorly disguised multiplication word problem and L said:
“WAIT. That’s a math game. You’re trying to sell me on this idea when it’s really about math?”
“That’s not exactly action/adventure.”
“Why do you want your game to be about math?”
“That’s a ridiculous answer. That makes no sense.”
M: ‘Because’ is a good answer. As in why did you climb the mountain? Because it was there.
“Again, a ridiculous answer. You climb the mountain because you WANT to climb the mountain. That’s the answer.”
And therein lies our existential crisis of the day.
L spent the latter half of his spring break solo with dad in a cabin. Here’s something that I think is basically true (with exceptions, of course). When the fellas are hanging out with other fellas, they ingest only cured meat products, their mouths clamp shut if faced with a vegetable or a fruit, and they forgo bathing at all costs.
I suppose a mother should expect such things. I can only hope we’ve averted scurvy.
To that, soapy, warm, clean L.