Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good question. Good answer.

Not long after I walked in from work yesterday, The Boy started shaking his head back and forth.
The Boy: Daddy.
Me: Yes?
The Boy: I can hear my brain move in my head when I do this.
Me: What?
The Boy: I can hear my brain in my head when I move it back and forth.
Me: [Pause] What does it sound like?
The Boy: A rock.
Okay. And then a little later as I'm running the bath and as my wife is negotiating with Q over something, the boy comes in. Quiet, he eventually stops in the middle of pulling off his second sock.
The Boy: Daddy.
Me: Yes?
The Boy: What is thinking?
Now unlike many questions I expect to encounter as a parent (about, e.g., the origin of babies and whatnot), this one I've actually been trained to answer, have actually studied for years, published articles on, and have given talks to learned audiences about with complicated slides. This was my moment. Supposedly.
Me: That's a good question—a really difficult question. I think thinking is a little like asking yourself questions and then answering them to yourself.
The Boy: [skeptical look]
Me: That's how I think about it, anyway.
The Boy: [skeptical look]
Me: ...
The Boy: [skeptical look]
Me: What do you think thinking is?
The Boy: I think with my imagination.
Me: I like that. That's a good way of thinking about it, too.
He's got the making of a philosopher. Unfortunately.

Remember kids: Stay in school. (Just not for too long.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cold angels

It's definitely cold now.

We spent most of Thanksgiving day—the part we spent not eating—outside tossing up handfuls of bright leaves and reacquainting ourselves with the swings, our coats left to themselves inside in a pile. We made lots of room for the overeating we would engage in later.

The warmth faded through the week and held on weakly until the lip of December. Friday night, the last night of November, the wind came up off the river at a new, sharper angle. Saturday was nothing but cold, bitter in fact. We even decided against the two-block walk to go swimming like we've done nearly every week since joining the pool, which is saying something.

The snow on Sunday began as a rumor. That's as far as we let it go, though; Q & The Boy love snow (Q still has an odd fascination with snowmen that we don't quite understand and can't quite explain). We didn't want to get their hopes up.

On Sunday morning, my wife and I made it to the window a little before Q & The Boy, and we saw that the weather had already rebuilt the park. Under snow, the trees, the rocks, seemed to suggest something other than themselves. We sent the kids to look out the window when they padded out of their room just a little while later. The park paths already showed signs of adventure, and several folks were out with their kids and their cameras.

After breakfast we hoisted on layers ourselves and went willingly out into the cold. The Boy promised that he would make snowballs to throw at me. I couldn't help daring him to do so.

The cold made the snow to dry to pack; snowmen were definitely out of the question. But we did scoop up mittenfuls of powder to dust each other while pretending to run away. Then it was off to the playground to make new sense of the old swings and slides.

Q was excited that she could almost touch the ground when sitting in the swing, now that the snow had made it a little closer. The Boy sifted snow over the slides to speed himself down.

The cold may have precluded snowballs, but it encouraged snow angels. And they seemed to be everywhere we looked and went, glorious footprints of childhood. Out in the playground, The Boy headed over to a smooth patch of ground over by the picnic benches used for birthday parties in warmer months. He slid into a snow angel like an expert and encouraged us all to do the same.

He was irresistible, and I didn't find myself resisting that hard anyway. We all indulged ourselves.

When you're on your back, the snow squelching under your coat, you can't help but smile without thinking of how your face might look, can't help but feel lifted higher than you are. You can lose track, if just for a moment, of the line between snow and sky.

Happy December, everyone.