Whenever I cook chili, I also bake cornbread muffins, which Younger and I prefer to crackers. So, last Sunday night, with snow falling and temperatures dropping, I had a big pot of chili bubbling on the stove and muffins fluffing in the oven.
Monday, however, as I started gathering ingredients for the muffins, I realized I had not restocked my kitchen with the paper liners for my pan. So, as Younger wandered into the kitchen in search of some leftover chili, I explained the dilemma.
“Hey,” I said. “I can’t make the corn muffins tonight, so I’m just going to make straight cornbread.” I even spelled out, “Same thing, you just have to cut it into individual pieces.”
And I pointed to the pan with freshly mixed batter on the counter.
Younger dropped his gaze towards the pan. Then he ventured to the refrigerator, tugged on the door, peered inside, frowned, glanced at the large container of chili already set out on the counter then shut the door.
“I just have one question,” he finally said. “Where are those muffin-y, cornbread-y things you usually make with chili?”
My mouth fell open. “What did I just say?” I asked, my voice hitting a few high notes. “What did I just say?”
Younger blinked at me. I stared at him.
I could almost hear the gears stumbling and stuttering into delayed action.
Then he grinned. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“Thinking?” I repeated. “You weren’t listening is what.”
“No, no,” he assured me, patting the air with his palms in a supposed soothing motion. “I was listening. But I wasn’t thinking.”
So now I know why when he wears those little headsets and listens for the beeps, he raises his hand at every single one.
But when I ask him to clean his room, he never even flinches.
Because one is apparently hearing. And the other is thinking.
In one ear…and out the other…with no chance of getting caught in between.