It was back to the real world this week. It’s always a transition for me to go from the edge of the ocean and it’s unobstructed view of the universe back to the world of highway mazes that carve in and out of buildings and people and billboards and….., well, you get the picture. It’s not that I have anything against any of those things by themselves, with the exception of billboards – I hate billboards. But together they are often linked like a tall fence that leaves you wondering and often climbing to take a peak at what might be happening on the other side. Of course this comes from the perspective of someone raised in the rural Midwest where it often felt like living on a beach without water. You could still see forever.
I learned this week that I might not have a good understanding of what the real world actually is.
My friend Joe called me the other night around 9:15. Normally, if someone calls me at that hour of the night they are left wondering why I didn’t answer. Maybe had I died, moved to a country without cell towers, thrown my phone into the ocean (and thereby giving it an unobstructed view of the world), gone to bed, or decided to pretend I didn’t actually hear it ring. I am here to confirm it is most likely the latter, but it’s not impossible that I’ve gone to bed. I wish there was a way that just as clearly as a caller’s name pops up on my cell phone screen, a return image could appear on their phone outlining my hours of operation. I assure you 9PM would not fall within that outline.
I hadn’t talked to Joe for awhile, so I answered. We had been chatting for a few minutes when my phone indicated another call was coming in. It was my dad. I told Joe I needed to take that call. I had all but decided I was about to get bad news. My dad never calls me that late at night. I could tell right away when I answered his call that his voice wasn’t carrying bad news. In fact, far from it. Seems my mom was having a garage sale and she was wondering if some items she was prepared to sell might interest the boys. This led me to ask my dad a critical question: “Did you really just call me at 9:20PM to ask me about a Leapster?” He quickly blamed my mom and handed me over to her, who for some reason was still up at that crazy hour of the night.
Last night Katie and I took advantage of an opportunity made possible by our church to get out for the evening. The youth were hosting a “parents’ night out” where, for a small fee, the youth watched the boys for a few hours while mom and dad enjoyed some quiet time. On the way to the restaurant where we had decided to get some dinner, I made the comment that since it was going to be close to 7PM when we got there, the crowd would probably have died down. Let’s just say she was astounded that I thought that 7PM on a Saturday night would be a time of inactivity on the east side of Richmond. I asked who on earth eats that late at night? She reminded me that we, she and I pre-them, the kids, used to eat that late all the time. I don’t recall that. When we got to the restaurant and put our names on the list to be called to eat when some of the crowd cleared out, I realized that after our boys go to bed at night, and my hours of operations cease, a world happens out there. A world I guess I was once a part of.
When we picked the boys up from church I realized that they too are unfamiliar with the world of night.
When we were leaving the church Elliott asked why it was dark. Katie gave him a very scientific explanation: “the sun has gone to bed.” As he further probed the darkness, I quickly realized that he was wondering more why we were actually out in the dark and not looking at it like we usually do, through a window in our house like we do birds and planes and other interesting attractions. We explained that it was just a special occasion. A very late one.
Driving home in the dark started a very interesting discussion. It began when Ian confused a light in a parking lot we passed for the moon. Katie explained that it wasn’t the moon, but actually a light to help people see. See what, Ian wanted to know. She explained the light helps some people find their keys when they’re trying to get in their cars at night. Ian locked that away for future reference.
Elliott began looking for fireflies. He recalled a time when he saw fireflies in the woods and they lit up the whole forest. He went on to explain to us that there are good bugs and bad bugs, and fireflies are the “goodest” bugs. We asked why they were the “goodest”. He told us because fireflies get together to light things up so people can see and find things.
“They help me find my car keys,” screamed Ian in excitement.
I couldn’t help but ask for an example of a bad bug. Elliott named spiders, all things that sting, and horseflies. He said that spiders were the baddest bugs, and garantulas the worst spiders of all. He told me that garantulas are not granddaddy longlegs, but much bigger spiders. I asked why they were so bad. He told me because they bite your fingers and then your fingers smash out.
By the time we arrived home, one thing was very clear to me. The Cartwrights are not nocturnal creatures – nor should we be.
A boy on a mission
I see what he had in mind
I refuse to wait for it to come back up