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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Kid's Imagination

You never know what might be in a kid's imagination, until you give him the opportunity to release it. My 10 year-old son and two of his 4th grade classmates produced this video. After watching it, I still don't quite understand his imagination, but I was definitely entertained.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Skim Board vs. the Whiteboard

Yesterday I faced a conundrum. Someone forced me to take a hard look at what I'm teaching my children to value and to make a difficult decision.

The public schools in my county are out for summer. The private school my children currently attend, however, is still in session for another week. And therein lies my problem. Two of my 12 year-old son's friends, who are liberated to revel in summer's bliss, invited my child to revel with them. They asked if he could go to the beach with them for the day, today, a Friday, a school day for my 12 year-old.

There I found myself caught between the importance of education and what I know to be fleeting opportunities for youthful abandon. In an effort to put the decision on the shoulders of others, I told my son he could not go if he had any tests or quizzes scheduled for today. He smiled broadly at me. He didn't have any obligations of that nature.

I explained to him my concern over the message I would send him, and his siblings, for that matter, if I allowed him to skim board all day instead of stare at a whiteboard for eight hours. He assured me, however, that he understands the importance of studying hard and doing well in school. "Sometimes, Mama," he argued, "a boy just needs a mental health day." And he cartoonishly convulsed to emphasize his point.

Sending him out of the kitchen, I insisted that he leave me to ponder it for awhile. I thought about the last time I did anything spontaneous or slightly irresponsible. Nothing registered. Apparently, without my constant attention to all the details and serious commitment to the to-do list, nothing will get done and all will fall apart or come to a screeching halt.

Then I considered all the people who have died without notice; up and keeled over without warning. I pictured their to-do lists scribbled on paper on their kitchen tables with nothing crossed off. Friends and relatives mourn their absence. They cry. But no one says, "How will the grass ever get cut now that Gerald is gone?" or "Who will service those accounts Jane's been in charge of?" No, Gerald and Jane are six feet under having never unchained themselves from their to-do lists and life marches right on. The grass gets cut, the accounts get managed, and their to-do lists get thrown away, unnecessary remnants of lives concluded.

While I don't want my son to be 32 years-old, sitting on my sofa, watching reality TV, wearing a wife-beater shirt, with his right hand shoved in his unbuttoned trousers, and his left hand transporting a PBR from the end table to his lips, I don't want him to take himself too seriously either. Although I may regret it and find myself kicking his 32 year-old arse out the front door someday . . .

I landed on the side of youthful abandon and sent my son and his skim board to the beach with his friends. The whiteboard can wait until Monday.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Word Rodeo

So we're driving through one of those dark, narrow parking decks with small arrow signs pointing us in directions that they don't appear quite committed to. Those signs reserve the right to change their mind when a car comes through the maze in the opposite direction.

Out loud, I say to myself, "It's hard to maneuver a car in here," to which my young daughter responds, "What does maneuver mean?"

Her brother, only slightly older than her but adamant about exerting his intellectual dominance, replies, before I can, because I'm winding my way up the tower of Babel in the wrong direction, "It means poop."

Now, while he desires to crush his sister like a brainless bug under the sole of his intelligence, he also loves to fit in potty talk whenever he can. "No it doesn't," I correct, still peering through the dark for a parking space.

"Uh-huh," he insists, "I've heard you and Daddy talk about cow maneuver; how y'all are going to put cow maneuver on the garden."

"Honey, you mean manure. Cow manure."

"I do?" he asks, surprised. "Then what is cow maneuver."

"It's what they do at rodeos."