Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raising Modern-Day Connivers

“Mom?  Can you help me write a paragraph?”
I glance at the microwave clock.  “It’s 10:30 at night.  You should have been in bed an hour ago.”
“Dad let me stay up.”
“He did?”
“Yeah, he said it was because I had a lot of homework.”
“You had a lot of homework?  What were you doing kicking a soccer ball around earlier?”
“You weren’t around to help me.  You were busy, remember?”
“I don’t.”  I truly didn’t.  The afternoon was a blur. 
“You were.  Trust me, Mom.  You’ve seemed kind of tired lately.  Is everything okay?”
“I’m fine.  It’s…a lot of things, really.  Where’s your dad?”
“It’s really 10:30?”
“It’s okay, Mom.  Your mind wanders.”
“Good thing I have you.  What are you writing about?”
“The challenges of Athenian democracy for the citizen-initiator.”
“Let me guess?  It’s due tomorrow.”
“It was only assigned today.”
He’s lying.  “You’re lying.”
He concedes.  “A little.”
“Have you done any research?”
“No.  I figured you knew about it.  You studied this stuff once.”
“What do I look like?  Freakin’ Wikipedia?  Look it up.  Did you bring your textbook home?”
“Hunter has it.”
“Hunter?  Why does he have your textbook?”
“Because he didn’t bring his home.”
“So you gave him yours?”
“You’ve always taught me to share.”
I sigh.  “So why didn’t you look this Athenian thing up online this afternoon?”
“Dad was on the computer.”
“We have three.”
“Steven was doing his homework on his, and the girls were on the other one.”
“ The girls?  What were they doing?”
“Playing Zoo Tycoon.”
“Where was I?”
“You had a headache.  And then you took that phone call.”
“Homework trumps games.  You know that.”
“Oh, I know, but you told them to find something to do since it was raining outside.”
“It wasn’t raining!”
“Yes, it was.  You yelled at me to come in from outside because I was juggling the ball in the rain.”
“I did?”
“Yeah, you spent an hour getting the mud and grass stains out of my new jeans.  Are you okay?”
“I guess.  I don’t remember any of this.”
He pats me on the shoulder.  “Let’s just get to this paragraph and get you off to bed.”
“Right.  They study the Athenians in junior high school now?”
“School has come a long way since you were a kid.”
I pause.  “I don’t remember talking city-states until high school.”
“I’m in the advanced class.”
“So why do you need help writing a paragraph?”
“I need the help of a professional.  You always say if you are going to do something, do it right.”
“I say a lot of things.”
“And I am taking them to heart.”
“Clearly.  Well, as I remember it, Athenian democracy…”
“Do we have any leftovers?  I’m pretty hungry still.”
“You just had a bowl of cereal!” 
“I know, but you’re just not making enough dinner these days.  Better step it up.”
“What did I make for dinner?”
“We had that white bean pasta again…not that I’m complaining.  It’s good and all, but you’re not making enough.”
“Should I be screened for Alzheimer’s?”
“No, but you really need to do something with your mind.  Keep yourself sharp.  Like more reading.”
“I read plenty!”
“Sure, but just short blogs.”  He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a book entitled “The Classical Origins of Western Civilization.”
“This?  In junior high school?” 
He smiles at me warmly.  “I got it from the library.  Thought you would enjoy it.”
“There’s something in there about the beginnings of democracy.”
I flip through the book while he stirs chocolate syrup into a glass of milk.  “This is pretty fascinating.”
“Told you you’d like it.  Now, should we get down to that paragraph?”
I glance up at the microwave clock.  “It’s almost 11!  What are we doing?”
“Oh, hey, did I tell you that Hunter was telling me that his mom was talking about how great you look since you got your new haircut?”
“Hunter’s mom said that?”
“Yep.  Says it makes you look 25.”
“Well, bless her heart for saying that!”
“Right.  So what do you remember about the Athenians again?”
“Well, it’s right here in this book…”
“I think I need an eye exam.  I can barely see the board at school anymore.”
“Really?  Oh, my God!  You never said that before.”
“I know.  I didn’t want to bother you.”
“Well, here, let me read it to you.  ‘In the Greek city-state of Athens…”
He hands me and a notebook pen.  “Do you mind jotting down a few notes while you read?”
I beam at him.  “Not at all.  Did the milk help,  or are you still hungry?”
“A little.  I’m going to make a sandwich while you read.”
I sigh as he opens the refrigerator.  What did I do to raise such an independent kid?


  1. I have tears running down my face and dripping onto my desk from laughing so hard.

  2. I've never even met this kid, and I *love* him! :)

  3. You sure are raising them right! :) This had me howling!

  4. Love how he played you from the first line. Great kid. You have a delightful sense of humor.