Unreal Rectangles

Last night, as I reviewed Younger’s English homework, I pointed to one particular sentence in the assignment. “What is the subject of that sentence?”

“Moss,” he answered confidently.

“No, ‘moss’ is the object of the preposition ‘of,’ ” I responded keeping my finger on the sentence. “What is the subject? What is the sentence about?”

“Green,” he offered.

I frowned at him. “No, ‘green’ modifies ‘moss.’ The ‘of green moss’ is a prepositional phrase. What is the subject?”

“It can’t be ‘rectangles,’ ” he announced, challenging me to argue.

Undaunted, I stated, “Yes, it is ‘rectangles.’ The ‘rectangles of green grass covered . . .’ The rectangles covered.”

“No, no,” he assured me. “It can’t be ‘rectangles.’ Rectangles aren’t real.”

This young man just received his ACT score, and, somehow, he earned an impressively high score in the English section.

But he cannot identify the subject of a sentence because rectangles aren’t real.

I don’t even know any more.



Mug Shot

On Tuesday, Elder skipped class to participate in his first presidential election then met me for a quick meal at his favorite sandwich shop.

Standing in the line at the counter, I tilted my head, eyeing him. “You need a haircut, Elder,” I told him, despite my best intentions. Usually, I try to leave minor decisions to the boys, so that my voice is heard on the major ones. But seriously. With his long, wild, frizzy curls and scruffy, full beard, he looked like he had just emerged from the woods after a six-month hibernation. I did manage to add the conciliatory, “At least a trim.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, easily. “But I probably won’t have time to come back home until Thanksgiving break.”

“You can find a place in Columbia,” I suggested.

He shook his head. “Nope,” he pronounced, a simple statement of loyalty to the one who has cut his hair for the last five years or more. “Besides, at least now people can recognize me from over a block away.”

Which, I guess, means he doesn’t intend to rob a bank or participate in any other nefarious activity where recognition is a disadvantage.

So, you know, that’s a relief.



Over and Under

Generally, when my husband takes my car and the gas gauge is sitting below the halfway mark, he fills it up for me.

Awww, that’s sweet.

I know.

So, on Monday, when we switched vehicles so that I could have tires replaced on the truck, I knew the gas gauge on the car was sitting well below the halfway mark. And, because I assumed he would fill my tank, I stopped on my way home and filled his.

Awww, that’s sweet.

I know.

Except, of course, that on Tuesday, I climbed into a car that was on empty, requiring that I coast into a gas station on fumes.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. But the tank was definitely on the last dregs of gasoline.

Then, on Wednesday, I went to lock the door with the keys my husband had returned to me along with the car, only to find my keys totally out of order.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating. But one was definitely out of order.

“Your dad has me all confused,” I muttered to Younger, who had witnessed my earlier dismay over the empty tank, as we trudged through the yard towards the car. “The house key for the outside doors was always on the outside. It’s how I remembered which key was for which door. Now –” I rattled the keys in his direction– “the car key is on the outside and both the house keys are on the inside.”

Younger raised an eyebrow at me. “I think you are overthinking this, Mom.”

“Overthinking it?” I squeaked. “I tried to lock the door with the car key.”

“Well, maybe you are under-thinking it, then,” he granted, tossing his backpack into the back seat. “One way or another, you are not working at the correct thinking capacity.”

Yeah, marrying an engineer was a good plan.

Creating little miniature engineers with him was an even better one.

Apparently, I wasn’t workingĀ at the correct thinking capacity then either.