The Philosophy of Life

So, Monday was the first day of Younger’s senior year. Monday, the day of the solar eclipse. The solar eclipse that Younger wanted to travel to see in totality.

Instead, he had to settle for a ninety-eight percent solar eclipse.

So, early Monday, standing outside his bedroom door, I took a deep breath then rapped my knuckles lightly against the wood. “Morning,” I sang lightly, poking my head in.

“Hmmph,” I heard from the pile of bedcovers.

“Hey, Younger, if you get ready quickly, I can take you to breakfast before school.”

One eye appeared, blinking at the light. “McDonald’s?”

And for a few brief moments, I was pleased that I had brightened his day just a bit. But, once he was begrudgingly prepared to venture toward his last high school year, I could not find my car keys.

You need keys to venture.

So, instead, after frantically searching for several minutes, I grabbed the keys to our 1996 Ford F-150. A bit of a rougher ride than the car. But, except for the steering wheel cover that long ago degraded into sticky rubber particles, not a completely bad drive.

Well, and except for that forgotten refrigerator in the back.

“I’m not getting McDonald’s, am I?” Younger commented as we stood shoulder to shoulder staring at the freezer door wedged at an awkward and askew angle between the refrigerator and tire well.

But we embraced our inner redneck and climbed into the ancient truck, not getting above fourth gear during the entire thirteen miles. But we, eventually, arrived successfully at the stoplight in front of the school.

“At least we beat the traffic,” Younger managed a bit of optimism.

“Yeah,” I glanced at the lo-ooo-ong line of cars snaking behind us and turned into the parking lot with a sigh. “Yeah, well, we might have actually been traffic.”

As he slid from the truck seat, Younger hiked his backpack onto his shoulder. “It could have been worse. That’s about all I can say about it.”

I think, sometimes, that is the philosophy of life.

It could have been worse.

And that’s about all I can say about it.

 

 

 

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One More Time

Today, I helped Elder carry boxes, baskets, and bags to his car. Then he wrapped his arms around me and pressed his cheek to the top of my head.

“I love you so much, Mom,” he told me.

“I love you so much, too,” I responded, patting his back.

Then I watched him climb into his car, surrounded by a significant portion of his material belongings. And I stood in the driveway until he and his car bounced onto the gravel road, heading towards another school year at Mizzou.

This parting thing — it doesn’t get any easier with practice.

Just sayin’.

 

Be Batman

Tuesday was registration day for seniors, so Younger and I spent a half an hour at his high school as he dragged himself from table to table.

At the first stop, the ladies gave Younger his schedule and said, “They have you in ceramics, Younger.”

“Uhhhnhhh,” Younger drawled, reluctantly accepting the paperwork. “No.”

So, we had to make a quick stop at the counselor’s table.

Eventually, we made it to the last stop — his picture for the yearbook. I tried to straighten his tie and comb his hair, while he ducked and grumbled, mortified. Then, with me laughing at him, he walked over to stand in front of the screen for his last school picture.

Afterward, we took a trip to the grocery store. And Younger, who had been slumped in his seat, suddenly straightened at the sight of a bicyclist riding against traffic, some length of material flapping behind him.

“Is that Batman?” he questioned, peering closer. “Is it? Oh.” He deflated. “It’s a vest. I thought it was a cape. I was excited for a moment.”

I’m not sure if he was excited at the prospect of seeing Batman or at the prospect of seeing some nut who thought he was Batman.

But a skinny guy in a flapping, yellow vest riding a wobbly bike the wrong direction is apparently a severe disappointment in Younger’s entertainment realm.

He’s a hard one to please.

 

Balancing Act

Younger had to entertain himself last night at the restaurant. So he begged a penny off of me and confiscated both of our forks.

Balancing Forks 2

He then trapped the penny between the tines of the two forks, pointing in opposite directions, then balanced his creation on the lip of his soda mug.

Balancing Forks 1

He was impressed with himself.

I asked him, “Do you know how many hands have touched that penny? And now that penny is wedged into my fork?”

“Well,” he drawled, “after a while, the number of hands is immaterial.”

He’s not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

Well, he might be as clever as he thinks he is.

But he’s not as funny as he thinks he is.

I better not die laughing, anyway.

Wake Me Up

Since  Elder started kindergarten, I have always worked my schedule so that I was with the boys before and after school, except for the two years I worked part-time at the local army installation. But, now, for the next few months, I am again working part-time at the local army installation.

And, Monday, I had four hours of training and would leave with my husband long before the boys were awake for the day.

So, Sunday night, I told the boys, “I won’t be here when you wake up in the morning.”

“Okay, Mom,” they responded, their eyes never leaving their Smash tournament taking place on the television screen.

I finished some laundry then wandered back into the living room, halting behind the sofa. “Okay, well, good night, I guess.” I paused, folding my arms tight against my chest. “I won’t be here when you wake up in the morning.”

“Yeah, okay, Mom.” Neither one glanced in my direction, buttons clicking beneath their busy fingers as their Nintendo characters engaged in an apparently fierce battle. “Good night.”

I sighed. “Night. Love you.”

“Love you, Mom.”

And I retreated to my bedroom. “I worked hard to be here every morning their whole lives,” I told my husband, grumpily. “And they can’t even act sad about tomorrow.”

My husband offered that tolerant smile he has when he thinks I am being less than reasonable. “They’re eighteen and twenty-one,” he reminded me, gently.

“But I was supposed to get something out of it, too,” I wailed.

I guess he didn’t think that was any more reasonable, judging by his patting of my head.

Men.

They understand nothing.

Nothing.

And I am surrounded by them.

Recommended Ages

Yesterday was Younger’s eighteenth birthday, so today I thought I would share this story from 2004. For the record, Younger can still out talk the best of them . . .

My youngest nephew loves balls, so I thought I might buy him one as a little extra present at Christmas.  And I found one that resembled an octopus with a thousand legs, and uncharacteristically, I did not check the recommended ages.  I just bought it on a whim.  But, apparently, the hundreds of tentacles that actually attracted me to the ball is a danger to children under three.

My nephew is one.

Younger, however, is six.

“Mom,” he said, pulling the ball from the depths of the paper bag from the toy store.  “Owen is not over the age of three.  He cannot have this ball.”  Then he cast me a glance from the corner of his eye.  “You need to find someone who is over the age of three.  Like me.  I’m six.  I am over the age of three.  I could have this ball.  Can I have the ball, Mom?”

I believe that the children under the age of three simply cannot  out talk the children over the age of three, which is why they are not allowed to have the ball with the thousand tentacles.

And that is what they mean by recommended ages.

Love All Your Pieces

Elder turned twenty-one yesterday, so today I thought I would share one of my favorite moments with him when he was only five years old and I could still ignore the fact he would soon grow into a man . . .

Last night as I readied Elder for bed, I gave him a hug and a kiss.  Then I told him, “I love you.”  Without responding, he turned towards the bedroom, so I caught his arm and repeated, “I love you, Elder.”

“Mom,” he said, looking up at me with sincere blue eyes.  “I love you like a balloon that gets too full and pops.”

“Oh,” I murmured, both touched and impressed by his metaphor, not to mention the arms that he had spread wide to indicate the size of the balloon.

“And then,” he continued, dropping his arms and walking away, “I love all your pieces.”

. . . And for twenty-one years my love for him has filled and popped many, many balloons.

And I love all his pieces.