"Mother" they would say, "Mother, explain to us the ways of the universe, and educate us as only you can."
I, their mother, would gaze at them, lovingly, and explain the great mysteries of the world, while taking joy from watching their eyes fill with understanding.
Clearly, I had this dream was before I ever had children.
Reality turns out more like this:
"Look, Mom, an American flag!" Quinn's voice bursts out behind me in the van on the way to a Cub Scout dinner. After some discussion about the flag, then the Pledge of Allegiance, and how I use to think it said, "one nation, invisible", we came to their "great mystery" of the day:
"What does 'indivisible' mean?" my seven year old asked. I gripped the wheel and thought about how to explain it in a way he could understand.
"Well, Quinn, you have two legs, two arms, a head and a torso, right? These are different parts of your body. But they can't be taken apart. Together, they form your one body. Quinn's body. And you are 'indivisible'" I smiled, probably a little smugly, proud of my own quick thinking.
Though I couldn't see his face, I could just imagine the look of understanding that was surely passing across it.
"Well," he started, shattering my mental picture, Because the second he started speaking, I knew from the tone, that he was about to pull what I'd just said apart. "Someone could cut me up, with a big knife or a sword." I could feel the wheels begin spinning rapidly in my brain, screaming for extra coffee, and desperately thinking of how to respond to that while simultaneously erasing such a thought from my head.
"Well, not without a lot of bloodshed and pain!"
This was not the right answer. And we both knew it.
"But still, a really big sword and it could..."
And this is when I stopped the conversation, reminded of my place in this world.
Some days I kill it at the mom thing. Other days, it's a battle of wits, and I have left all of mine somewhere else. They remind me that I'm not as smart as I think I am. And while I hate to admit it, that's probably a good thing.
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