My son turns six years old today. It’s kind of unbelievable to look back at photographs from when he was born and remember the tiny baby he was, versus now, the child he has become.
He was a tiny thing, just 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and 19 ½ inches long. Today he’s close to 60 pounds and just shy of 4 feet tall.
Back then he didn’t speak, he slept a lot and cried. Now he won’t stop talking and he wakes up way too early in the mornings. He still cries, but mostly only when he’s hurt or very mad.
Back then, as I struggled with my new role as a mother, I came upon a quote that immediately and ever since became one of my favorite quotes about parenting: The days are long but the years are short. I don’t know who said that, but I believe that those are truest words ever spoken. How did we get here? Six years down the road from where we started? The past is nearly all a blur. That’s partly, I think, why I started writing. To document the stories of our lives before they become blurry too. The past… eventually it eludes us, stands just beyond our grasp laughing at us and at what we can’t remember because we are too busy dealing with the here and now. And so I take the time to write things down before I forget them, before I get too busy with the next thing. I will collect these stories, and one day I will publish them. Most likely it will be my own personal endeavor, a book made on Blurb or somewhere similar, and bought only by myself. But I will give the book to Snags. And when he is 25 or 38 or 46 he can look back and remember with me, or with his own children, the things that we might have otherwise forgotten.
There’s a gentleman that I know who through the years has asked about my son and told me about his son, already an adult. This man came to the conclusion, from the stories I told him about Snags, that my son was destined for greatness. “The only thing is,” he said, “I’m not sure if he’s going to be the President of the United States or a criminal mastermind. You are going to have your hands full,” he warned. “Keep on top of your son, nurture his skills, and push him toward good. He’s smart… too smart, too crafty and too mischievous, he could go either way. It’s your job to lead him in the right direction.”
And I’m trying, I really am. But the other night I got a little taste of what the future might hold, and this kid of mine, he may turn out to be an Evil Genius despite my best efforts. It was bedtime and I was reading out loud about the planet Saturn from a book called 4000 Things You Should Know. “Saturn,” the book states, “is so massive, the pressure at its heart is enough to turn hydrogen solid. That is why there is a layer of metallic hydrogen around the planet’s inner core of rock.” And it goes on to explain that “Saturn is not solid, but is made almost entirely of gas, mostly liquid hydrogen and helium. Only in the planet’s very small core is there any solid rock.”
I tried to explain that in terms I thought an almost six year old would understand, so I explained that air is a gas and that if it were on Saturn it would turn it into solid chunks.
I continued reading and after a few minutes Snags interrupted and said, “Okay! We need to destroy Saturn. We need to BLOW. IT. UP!” I looked at my son, innocent child turned comic book villain, and said no, that wasn’t right. We shouldn’t do that. But then I proceed to ask him why he thought we should blow up Saturn.
“Because,” he said, “there is no oxygen is space. That’s because Saturn takes it all and turns it into rocks. So if we destroy Saturn the rocks will turn back into air and people will be able to breathe in space!”
I laughed. “Okay,” I said. “I see your reasoning. That sounds logical, but I don’t think I explained this right… We don’t breathe the type of gas that Saturn turns into a solid. That’s hydrogen, and we are breathing air which is made up of mostly nitrogen and oxygen, not hydrogen…”
The next day, as I was shopping for Snags’ birthday present in Target, I was thinking about his plan to blow up Saturn. I had to consider whether or not I was the best person to lead Snags away from the dark side…
I was in one of the toy aisles and reaching out to take hold of a Star Wars transformer that could turn from an X-Wing into Luke Skywalker. As luck would have it, it was the very last one they had. And just as my fingertips brushed the package, a little boy zipped down the aisle at breakneck speed and grabbed the toy off the hook it was hanging from. Right from under my hand! The child’s mother saw this and reprimanded him, told him to give the toy back to me, that I was looking at it and going to buy it. The child handed the toy over to me, and I thanked him and then his mother. I thought that was the end of our conversation.
But then the woman asked me “Are you going to buy that?” and I said “Yes, I was thinking about it.” To which she puffed herself up like the Wicked Witch of
the West Target and huffed “THINKING ABOUT AND BUYING ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! WHICH IS IT?!”
I was stunned. It took me a moment but when I recovered from her verbal slap I said I was going to buy it. Then, for fun, I continued to look at other Star Wars toys on the shelves, pulling them down, turning them over, reading the back and looking like I was weighing their merits against the transformer I said I was buying.
Eventually, I tuned my cart around and pushed my way out of the aisle. I stopped to look at another toy, one that Snags has asked for before. I pulled it off the shelf and put it in my cart. Then I turned down the Barbie aisle, pulled the X-Wing/Luke Skywalker Transformer from my cart, and shoved it behind a bunch of Barbie Dolls. I decided that I wasn’t going to buy it, but neither was the witch in the Star Wars aisle. And that’s why I am not sure I will be much help when it comes to stopping my little evil genius from blowing up Saturn. It’s for a good cause, after all.