A Learning Experience

Exhausted, Younger sprawled on the floor, tossing his grammar homework at me, displaying distinct disinterest in the grammar book I attempted to hand him.

“You can just do it for me. Your poor boy is exhausted.”

“I could,” I responded, shoving the book beneath his nose and determinedly pointing towards the lists and explanations on different pages. “But then what would you have learned?”

“I would have learned how to get you to do my work for me.”

Instead, he had a different learning experience.

How to quickly duck a swinging textbook.

Some lessons are harder than others.



Have Drunken

I may have mentioned that mornings are not Younger’s best part of the day.

However, the other day, as we drove along the highway snaking inevitably towards the school, he, uncharacteristically, attempted a conversation. “I drunk — ” he started then paused, glancing at me. “I drank . . . I drunk . . . drank?”

I grinned at him. “At least you didn’t say ‘have drunken.’ ”

“One time!” he objected, offended. “Just the one time.”

Yeah, but once is all it takes in this family.

Besides . . .

Have drunken.

Why would I let that go?



Tears of a Vulcan

Over the holiday weekend, I was again trapped in our truck with Younger and my husband and their shared warped humor.

“I was watching Star Trek the other day,” Younger announced, not too long into the drive. “And, at one point, when Spock was crying, the closed captioning read ‘sobbing mathematically.’ ” My husband burst into laughter. “Seriously,” Younger assured us. “I have the pictures.”

And so they launched into an exchange of quoted movie lines and comedian routines, bits and pieces that earned great jocularity and fist bumps in the male members of our small party but left the lone female staring blankly into the darkness beyond the windows.

“Mom,” Younger ventured after several minutes, laughter still in his voice. “You doing okay?”

“I think she’s quietly sobbing,” my husband responded.

“Mathematically,” Younger tacked on, right on cue.

Pushed a bit too far, I, over my husband’s guffaws, replied smartly, “If I’m ever sobbing mathematically, you need to take me directly to a hospital.”

Undaunted, Younger questioned, “Can you sob grammatically?”

We were only fifteen minutes into an hour and a half drive. Even a Vulcan would have been in tears.


And You Are Welcome

It was late and I had to rise early, when Elder knocked on our bedroom door.

“What?” I mumbled into my pillow, grumpy as always when my sleep is delayed.

“I need you to check my grammar homework,” Elder announced, flicking on the light as he walked towards my bed.

Not bothering to fumble for my glasses on the nightstand, I squinted at the ten questions, marking four as definitely wrong and another as possibly wrong. “I don’t know about this one,” I admitted, returning the worksheet and pencil to him so that I could bury my head once again into my pillow. “Some people get their tails in a knot over the use of ‘which,’ but I’ve never understood why. I think it is fine, but you need to check your textbook.”

Elder levered himself up from his splayed position on the bed beside me. “Thanks for your help, Mom. I think it’s right. I’m just gonna leave it. I don’t have a textbook.”

“You don’t have a textbook?” I questioned, confused, peering at him with unfocused eyes. “How does your teacher teach grammar without a textbook?”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Elder reassured me, as he strolled from the room. “I’m sure she knows a lot more about grammar than you do.”

He really is an intelligent young man. All the standardized tests say so.

And I guess he did engage that intelligence at some point.

After all, he did wait until he was walking out the door before he insulted me.

My Sad Life

“Dad, if you fill a container with ice then fill all the empty space with water then seal the container then put the container in a freezer, will the water freeze?”

My forehead falling with a loud ka-thunk against the glass of the passenger side window, I peered into the darkness of the spring night, desperate to find anything that might interest me more than the conversation I knew was about to ensue.

Ignoring me, my husband answered Younger with a “Yup.”

“But what if the container is really strong? What if the container won’t allow the expansion? Won’t the pressure itself create heat and prevent the water from freezing?”

“Well, I suppose there would be some heat from the pressure. I suppose that would affect how much of the water froze.”

“Then could we make an ice bomb?”

Ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk.

So, if you ever witness our little family travelling along the roadway and you notice my head bouncing rhythmically against the window, you can be assured the engineer and his prodigy are discussing math or science or some other such useless nonsense.

No one ever says, “Hey, Mom, I accidentally used a dangling participle the other day, and it was absolutely hilarious. ‘Wearing only my underwear, the bear spied me as I emerged from my tent.’ Get it? The bear wasn’t wearing my underwear. I was. We all laughed.”

I live a very sad life.