Some nights now the wife is gone helping a friend cater to the rich and richer, listening to the gliterati of an oily cow town discuss the markets, hockey and nannies who don’t have visas to travel with them to Hawaii. Meanwhile at home I am trying to push back the rising tide of maleness* that is my three offspring as it threatens to overturn the small rowboat that is my sanity.  I am probably just barely keeping the water below my knee level as I bale it out by the teaspoonful with handfuls of chocolate chips and pecans I find in the cupboards.  I am like a squirrel gathering bits of sanity to store for these occasions when I feel the slow boil in my throat and hear words expelled with hard edges and volumes that I immediately regret.  I fear capsizing until, laying in my bed, the only quiet point of a triangle of sound, I hear from the room the two oldest boys share the following conversation.

G. the moon is full of candles and that is what makes it light. (this enlightening information is drowned out by the yapping of his little brother slowing rising in volume to a level that can’t be bested)

G. do you mind? it’s my turn to talk now.


G. Did you know the moon is glowing houses making them happy?

(meanwhile the little brother yells “GAGA GAGA” until big brother stops to patiently listen to his mumbling and then ask for permission to speak again…)

G. “The moon is private and there’s trees and one of the branches of our tree fell down remember that? OK now your turn….. say something about the moon or the branches or the trees….”

H.” hmblmlbmlbm moo hamdlamlam moo.” (The tones and inflections are those of an animated politician imploring that you can trust his facts, his motives. Of course the sounds themselves are also like those of politicians and lawyers….. gibberish that goes on too long and with too much certainty)

On and on and on in a circle they go about the moon and trees and chimneys with stars flying out of them, followed by unintelligible but equally urgent descriptions of whatever the heck is in that kid’s mouth that makes him unable to enunciate until suddenly as clear as his little blue eyes…

H. “I wanna choo choo an apple….”

G. “YOU CAN’T KEEP SAYING THE SAME THING, STOP TALKING ABOUT THE CHOO CHOO AND THE APPLE,             ok my turn… Do you know any planets, like the monkey planet? Have you ever lived in America?”

H. “uh huh….” (He always says this like a teenager might agree with, in a sort of matter of fact “of course I have who hasn’t” way.)

G. “No you haven’t lived in America…. We used to live in Muncie and now we live in Canada, First we lived in Muncie, then in America and now in Canada…. Do you like Canada?”

H. “yah…”

It goes on like this for an hour and despite the nagging feeling that I should be doing one of the tasks Google keeps telling me are urgent, I lie there and listen to them and feel the boat empty of water and the tide roll out and then suddenly silence.  All points are quiet and still and the wife is not yet home, but you know this will make her smile and that makes you smile and close the Google Task List…..

*maleness because as Nicola often points out this sort of crazy climbing, jumping, head bashing, toy throwing hysteria is apparently all my fault and completely foreign to someone raised without a brother. I always think of it as training although I don’t think any of us have figured out exactly for what…. At any rate maybe it is my fault but when I go to the park it becomes clear that it is not an exclusive club.

6 thoughts on “Overheard

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you who first lived in Muncie, then in America and now in Canada (including the Hen who hasn’t lived in America). This ode to the (private) moon is a gem.

  2. That was so awesome and lovely, Mr. Johnson. And informative. I had no idea chocolate chips and pecans could be utilized to protect sanity, nor did I know that the lack of visas for nannies was a problem.

  3. the chocolate chips apparently disappeared into some sort of cookie baking frenzy, but I seem to remember a large bottle of peanuts somewhere…

  4. first off,
    did the hen really reply with a candian accent “yah” to the question about liking canda?
    secondly, there’s no way that boy of yours won’t be getting all 4s next semester with talk like that!


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