I contribute a weekly column to the Platte County Landmark under the “Rambling Moron” name. It’s a great Northland Newspaper and well worth a subscription. The following is an copy of my article which appeared in the 11/16/12 edition – printed with permission.
IT’S THAT TIME
Tonight, the questions started.
“Daddy, when I get to Middle School, will I have to change clothes for gym class?” The question was asked at about 6:30, just as we were clearing the dinner dishes. Which, for us, meant that we put the paper plates in the trash and moved from one end of the couch to the other. But it also meant a rare moment when one of us wasn’t engaged in some singing show and another one was doing work and another one was playing video games. This was a family moment, so I took the bait and answered his question. “Yes, you have to change clothes for PE when you get to Middle School. Just act like you’re not completely freaked out by it and move on with your day.”
“So, when I get to Middle School, I get to pick my classes?” “Well sure, son,” I put my hand on his knee and looked at the boy who once slept so soundly on my chest just days after being born, “you get to pick all of your classes.” “That’d be great. I can pick all math classes.” (My son’s a little odd.)
“Daddy, about my voice. Will it crack during class?” I removed my hand from his knee and stood up. I exchanged a look with my wife. Our eyes met for only a moment, but in that moment we had an entire conversation. The look of terror dropped like a pall over her face. I got up and poured myself a drink. We knew where this was heading. “Yes,” my wife answered, “your voice will break. Just like that kid on the ‘Brady Bunch.'” My son looked at us. “The what?” “Nevermind. Yes, your voice will break.”
The liquor stung as it hit the back of my throat. Because the memories of being 10 started flooding through my mind. All the things I thought I knew, and all of the lessons I’d have to learn in the next couple of years. The questions kept coming and my glass kept needing a refil. My wife went to the kitchen several times to wash dishes that weren’t there. Questions about the logistics of how a voice breaks, why a voice breaks, why the boy on the Brady Bunch’s voice breaks. The singing show that my wife watches had ended, but he just kept talking.
Like a runaway freight train, the inquisitions raced by two shellshocked parents. What started as a question about gym class evolved into math classes in 7th grade and whether he’d still have the same friends and whether he was old enough to have a job shoveling snow. A light sweat started on my forehead.
Oh yes, I knew where this was heading.
“Daddy, so, do you think I’ll get a swirley from bullys at Middle School?” Each question was answered, which then led to more questions. More questions led to more answers and the only salvation was that it was getting closer to bed time.
“Daddy, in Middle School, I hear you have to dissect a frog. When I’m 13, do you think I’ll want to dissect a frog?” This question was a trick. An unseasoned parent would think that this question was about a frog. But you’re missing it if you don’t pay attention. This question now comes at the thirteen year mark. And when you follow his logic, in his mind, now the mind of a future thirteen year old, there’s only one question left…
“Daddy, about girls…”
Oh look. It’s bed time.