Some of my favorite moments with my boys happen when we’re driving. With the radio turned off (and absent any brotherly squabbling), I sit back and listen to the strange things that come out of their mouths.
Like Friday. The boys were off school and I needed to go to an appointment and had no choice but to take them (all!) along. I was steering the car east on Bow Trail, doing that whatweretheythinking loop on 12th (that’s really 10th) to get onto Crowchild when the Gort asked, rather unexpectedly, ‘why don’t you ever make baked beans?’
Apparently these are the questions that occupy their minds.
‘Do you like baked beans,’ I surveyed, trying to establish the point of the question. ‘Yeah, they taste so good and sugary,’ he replied. Of course. ‘Well, I’ll see if I can find a recipe,’ I vague-promised. Because it’s not something I ever crave or think to make.
We’d just navigated (another) accident on the Crowchild bridge and veered onto Memorial Drive, when they noticed all the steam coming off the buildings downtown. (Courtesy of the arctic chill.)
‘What happens if that bridge collapses,’ the Hen asked, pointing to either the Peace Bridge or the 10th street Bridge, I can’t remember now. ‘Well,’ the Gort assumed his authoritative, scholarly voice, ‘if that bridge collapses, 30 to 35 people will die,’ he explained. Part engineer, part prognosticator.
I bit my lip trying to suppress a giggle, because where does he come up with this stuff? Thirty to thirty-five people? Will die? I couldn’t help but think of that David Sedaris tale ‘six to eight black men‘, about the traditional Dutch Christmas story.
‘But if they fall on the ice, then the people won’t die,’ the Hen countered.
‘Duuuuude,’ big brother rebutted, ‘I think a car can break through the ice.’
His stellar reply reminded him of a conversation we’d recently had, ‘see!’ he gloated, ‘I told you I know a lot about science – I read science books all the time, but nooooooo…’ he drifted off, satisfied that his exhaustive knowledge of science – which I’d recently questioned along with his self-proclaimed ability to play six instruments – had been proven.
Two and a half hours later, as we made our way back to the city’s southwest quadrant, the Hen got upset about whoknowswhat.
‘You’re so dramatic,’ his older brother sighed, ‘you get upset about every little thing.’
I all but snorted in my seat. ‘Did you just call him dramatic? You’re dramatic. You get upset about a lot of things,’ I tried to remind the Gort that the pot had just called the kettle black.
‘No, I don’t,’ he balked at my suggestion.
‘Yes you do, you guys are all dramatic, I don’t know where you get it.’
I barely managed to complete my sentence without snorting some more. ‘You must get it from your dad.’
‘You’re dramatic,’ the Gort countered, as if he’d just discovered the source.
‘No, I’m not,’ I argued, unable to keep from laughing.
‘Our whole family is dramatic,’ he concluded, ‘it’s just drama, drama, drama.’
An hour or so later, as we finally headed home after a day of driving around Calgary, the car-talk turned to boogers and snot. Because I have three boys, that’s why.
I’ll spare the unsavory details, but next thing I knew, the Gort started singing ‘Hey Ho.’ (Which I can only blame on the professor’s downloading the entire Lumineers album minutes before we got in the car to drive to Indiana this past July.)
Except the Gort, musical genius that he is, altered the words of the song to be entirely about boogers and snot. I was equal parts repulsed and proud. My incredible improvisational skills had not gone unnoticed, they were being passed town to the next generation.
[They belong to me, they belong to me, my sweet-heeaarts.]
Later that evening, we gathered under blankets to watch ‘Planes’. But first we had to endure a series of Disney previews, among them Jungle Book. ‘Ugh, that movie is lame,‘ the Gort sighed, causing the Hen to agree that yes, Jungle book is exceedingly lame.
‘You used to like it when you were little’, I reminded him, nostalgically; remembering a time when a three year old Gort happily watched Mowgli and friends. ‘I highly doubt it,’ the teenager-in-training countered, ‘I must have just watched it to be entertained.’
The Hen and I were driving back from the grocery store today when he posed his out-of-the-blue question: ‘how old do you have to be to go in a rocket?’
Unfamiliar with the current age requirement of rocket-occupants, I offered my best-guess: ’21?’
‘You’re old enough to go in a rocket!’ he announced excitedly, as though I just hadn’t gotten around to taking my rocket-ride.
‘Um, I think you have to be a trained scientist to go on a rocket,’ I guessed again.
‘Well you’re not a scientist,’ he broke the news to me, ‘maybe Gaga can go, he’s a scientist.’
Yes, I heard. He reads science books. All the time.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I encouraged the middle child to speak his mind.
‘I want to sell video games,’ he lowered the bar. ‘But I want to keep some of them.’
I didn’t know what to say. Clearly our children have not been inspired by the years we toiled in institutions of higher learning.
‘Actually, I want to do mining,’ he changed his mind, saving me from having to feign interest about his video-game-selling career.
‘Really,’ I offered all that I could, having just skimmed an article in National Geographic about sapphire mining in Madagascar. (It looked like a lot of fun!)
‘Yeah, I want to dig for rubies and jewels,’ he enthused, undoubtedly inspired by Minecraft.
‘Well,’ I tried to offer a reality check, ‘you realize mining is hard work.’
‘Yeah, I’m gonna need a flashlight.’
‘A super-powered flashlight, I’d say.’
‘Yeah, and a ladder.’