Tag - logic

The Order of Things
My Son, the Fact Checker
When I Grow Up
Heaven is a Place
The Cycle of Life

The Order of Things

He says, “Mom? You’re number one.” I’m curious, mostly because he has an uncanny way of remembering the order of things.

So I reply, “You mean like you’re number six at school?” Because in second grade, that’s how they do it — each child lines up for lunch, recess, specials — all by a special number assigned alphabetically by the teacher.

A week in to the school year, when Sam is able to recite who is what number, I’m fascinated. When I point out that the order is done alphabetically, he says “No, it’s not. Number one is Maddie, number two is Alex.” I explain that the order is by last name and his eyes get bigger as he rattles off their names again with this new information.

I’m amazed that he ordered everyone by number and not alphabetically.

When he starts checking out books at the library on the U.S. presidents, I am relieved he’s moved on to a new topic, because let’s face it — how much more could he possibly learn about geography? Or cloud formations?

Pair a new interest with his current Animaniacs obsession and now my son knows every U.S. president in chronological order. (Sam, who is number 15? “James Buchanan, Mom.”) This song is in heavy, heavy rotation around our house. He sings it non-stop. It’s quite something to hear these lyrics explode from his mouth:

Tom Jefferson stayed up to write
The Constitution late at night
So he and his wife had a great big fight
And she made him sleep on the couch all night

James Madison never had a son
And he fought the War of 1812
James Monroe’s colossal nose
Was bigger than Pinocchio’s

What a skill — my brain has no such ability.

What I do have is a new appreciation for the way Sam orders his world. There is much comfort to be found in predictable, unalterable facts. It’s the other stuff — it’s the people in our lives. It’s the emotional, the messy, the unpredictable that makes him anxious. Me too. I guess you just hold on and trust that order will eventually arise from chaos.

My Son, the Fact Checker

Sam’s latest obsession is Greek Mythology. It may be an extension of his flying off the couch as if he were Icarus, but his curiosity for all things myth has increased over the last several months.

Scene: In car, driving to library. Sam, not content to just enjoy the short ten-minute ride, must read a thick tome of myths while on way to acquire new thick tomes of myths.

From the back seat: “Mom? This is really confusing!”

“What is, babe?”

“Atalanta and Hippomenes. The wrong person wins the race!”

“Hmm,” I say.

“Did you hear me? Mom! This is wrong!”

I’m fairly certain I have no idea what he’s talking about.

“Mom, on Starfall, it’s Atalanta who wins the race —not Hippomenes! But this book says that Hippomenes wins the race.”

I hear how upset he is and realize that 1) Even if my son is smarter than I am, I must not show it and 2) I need to come up with a better answer. But my mind and myths? A sieve.

“Okay, honey, we’ll consult Google when we get home.”

“That’s good and whoever has the most-rights will be the one I believe and the other will be most-wrong. Okay?”


The book is correct, of course. It is my motherly duty to write a letter to Starfall:

RE: The Woman Runner (under “I’m Reading;” “Greek Myths.”)
My 7-year-old son, who happens to have a photographic memory, was reading a book on Greek mythology and came to me confused about the ending of the myth of Atalanta and Hippomenes. The book he was reading ends with Hippomenes (the boy/prince) winning the race after Aphrodite gives him 3 apples with which to distract Atalanta (the girl). My son said “On Starfall, Atalanta wins the race.” So we came back here to your site and while I appreciate the girl-power twist on this myth, we both thought you should know it’s incorrect. If only you had 7-year-old fact checkers who are obsessed with mythology!

Their response:

Tell your son he is correct! The Woman Runner we modified so the kids can choose their ending. The kids can choose to let the prince win or let Atalanta win, and depending on the outcome of the race the final page is different.  But your son is correct that in the traditional myth the prince wins the race. Thanks for using Starfall!

Does that seem right? I mean, I know it’s mythology and not world history, but for kids like Sam who trust what they read, especially on educational sites —he can choose the ending? I don’t think this answer will appease Sam. Not at all. I think I will unleash him on the rest of the site. What say you, dear readers?

And here, a few additional Greek characters whose names I know not at all:

Cyclopes et. al.

Um devil guy, a centaur? Will consult with in-house expert and get back to you.


Icarus  (ˈɪkərəs, ˈaɪ-)
— n

Greek myth: the son of Daedalus, with whom he escaped from Crete, flying with wings made of wax and feathers. Heedless of his father’s warning he flew too near the sun, causing the wax to melt, and fell into the Aegean and drowned

There’s a type of mother I envy: she is calm in a crisis. She knows just what to do and does so serenely.

I am not that mother.

The first scream is high-pitched, so high that I’m not sure it’s human — is it our cat? I pause upstairs and listen, John has just arrived home from school and he stops too. I take a deep breath, and will the sound to be a false alarm, but instead it is followed by another. “Sam?” I race towards the basement just as he begins to limp up the stairs, his right arm hanging at an odd angle.

“What’s wrong, baby? What happened? What happened!” I ask although it’s painfully obvious that it’s his arm.

“I fell, I fell!” he sobs. I mentally review the downstairs, the kid-friendly soft couches, the large bookcases bolted to the wall. I pray he isn’t bleeding. I sit him down and scan the rest of his body, all seems okay but the arm is already swollen. We’re going to the ER without a doubt. I grab a pillow, my phone, and tell John we have to go in the car. The sound of other children crying usually agitates him but right now he is uncharacteristically quiet and still.

We pile into the car and my heart feels like it will thump right out of my chest. Despite this surge of terror, I am somehow able to carefully strap Sam in and place the pillow under his elbow to cushion it. “How did you fall, honey?” I am close to tears. He tells me he fell off the couch. Impossible, I think. He’s been climbing that couch since he could toddle.

“How could you fall? I don’t understand.”

“I jumped off, Mom,” he cries, “I was trying to fly!”

“You were what?” I say, incredulous. “What were you trying to do?” I tell him that people cannot fly, why on earth and all that’s holy, did he think he could fly?

“I thought I could! I can fly in my dreams! And I-care-us can fly,” he says.

“‘I-care-us’?” I ask. “Who the heck is ‘I-care-us’?”

“You know, from the greek mythology,” he tells me. Ah, Icarus. Of course you’re reading greek mythology.

As we race to the ER, I explain that mythology is like fiction. And fiction is the opposite of non-fiction, which means it’s a made-up story. Never even mind that the story does not end well. Did he read the whole story?

The wait in the ER is interminable, but at last they take us back for x-rays. The techs slap up a couple of pictures and say nothing — that’s the doctor’s job — but even my untrained eye can see the break at his elbow. He’s a trooper, but scared and worried and starting to fret about all the possible scenarios. I figure there’s a cast in his future.

As it turns out, the break is severe enough to require surgery and pins to help set the elbow. And because he is so young he must be transported to Children’s for a pediatric specialist and an overnight stay. This after I’ve assured Sam that no way, no how will he need surgery again, a cast probably, but not surgery.

Silly, stupid mommy.

This is just one of the reasons I blogged not at all during the month of May.

Here is another:

To be continued…

When I Grow Up

“Mom,” he says. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I tell him that for one, I’m already grown up and 2) I’m doing it — I’m his mom, I’m John’s mom.

And then I follow it with a long-winded tale about life before kids, when Mommy actually Worked. In an office! Because that’s the pinnacle, you know, that’s what Daddy does.

“Yeah, but what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Honestly, I just want to know what the heck a Fujita Scale is.

Heaven is a Place

There’s been a lot of talk about dead people and heaven lately. Sam is a bit consumed. There was the time our beloved Kitty died and he processed that with many drawings and a 3-D demonstration of the Thomas the Tank Engine life cycle (which I personally thought was genius).

It’s been quiet — no more talk of death — for close to a year. But he’s in first grade now — learning about presidents both dead and living, discussing Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and why it’s a holiday (“But he’s dead, Mommy, right? Do they have birthday parties in heaven?”) and suddenly he’s all “Mom, can you tell me about your Grammie who died again? Your Grammie in Florida.”

I oblige and tell him the bare minimum. I say, She was very sick and very old, Sam. I loved her very much and she loved you too. I don’t tell him how there’s a piece of me that aches when I think of her and that I don’t really know the answers to his questions or the ones I sense are coming.

“How old was she?” he wants to know. Eighty-six, I say. “And how old was I? When she died.” I tell him he and his brother were not yet two.

“Do we all die?” he asks. Yes, sweetheart, but after a very long, long time. My Grammie was pretty old.

“She’s in heaven,” he says. “But where is heaven? How do you get there?” I tell him the truth for once, that I don’t know but that I imagine it’s a beautiful place up in the sky where everyone is happy and it’s sunny all the time. “But how do you get there?” I really don’t know, honey, but I think your spirit flies up there when it’s time.

What else can I tell a boy who gathers facts like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Facts are solid and make sense. Heaven is faith. Can my little boy have faith?

He dropped the subject for a few days and returned to poring over his encyclopedia (a requested item from Santa) and books about constellations.

Yesterday he came home from school and the first thing he said was “Listen, Mom? The Vikings thought that the Milky Way was a bridge the dead crossed from Earth to heaven.” Drumroll, please… “That’s what I think too. Okay?”

Well, okay then.

The Cycle of Life

He comes home chattering about bones. I’m only half listening, my mind is on other things. “What, honey?” I ask.

“We die and then we’re all bones,” he says.

What?” I say again, my eyes wide. “Where on earth did you hear that? Did someone at school say that?”

“A- told me.” I know A- to be a precocious little girl and I’m not surprised that it was her, only that this came up at all.

I don’t recall learning such things in kindergarten, but they have been learning about the life cycle of plants, butterflies, mealworms. As soon as Sam walks through the door he’s at his table sketching out his new knowledge. Until recently, the end of life has been a topic easily avoided. But today, Sam wants to talk about death and dying.

Baby, Boy, Big Boy, “Tinager”, Grownup, Death, Gone


“See, Mom, this is death. Gone. Bones.”

“And what do you think about that?” I ask, stealing tricks from my former therapist.

He says, “When we’re bones we’re in the ground. Right?”

“Well, yes, but then we go to heaven and it’s a very happy place, not that here isn’t happy… and yes, death is part of the life cycle, but the human life cycle is really much longer than that of the mealworm,” I try. Has he realized our mortality?

Heaven? Kitty heaven?” he asks. “But Kitty is in Kitty Heaven!” he declares. We lost a beloved cat a year ago and all he knew was that it was sick and went away. I guess he thought it moved next door. My fault.

“Yes, he is. But he’s so happy there, he has lots of kitty friends. And he eats his favorite cat food and fish every day.”

“Oh, no! My Kitty is dead! I am sad!” and he starts pushing out tears. Literally. I can see his nose scrunch up as he tries to make them fall. I am fascinated. But then he is crying, “I want Kitty back! He was my friend! Zoey (our other cat) is NOT my friend, she hisses! I’ll never see Kitty again?”

I concede that Zoey is a little mean. I pull a photo of Kitty off the fridge and hand it to him. “No, we won’t see him again, but every time you think of him, he’ll be here in your heart.” I congratulate myself on navigating this subject for now, well aware that perhaps I should have tackled it a year ago. Cowardice.

The next few mornings, a teary Sam appears downstairs clutching Kitty’s photo. Although he hasn’t seen him in over a year, I can see he’s processing. Each morning he tells me how sad he is and that he loved Kitty.


In response to Can you pull up your pants, Sam?
“Don’t be daft, Mommy.”

While going potty. Successfully.
Sam: “Remember ‘Respect for Gordon’ Mommy?

(episode from Come Ride the Rails?).

Mommy: “Yes, I do.”
Sam: “Your respect me, Mommy.”


From a peeved Sam after I asked him to help me clean up his toys:
“Mommy disappear. Turn into Daddy.”

Oh, would I. Could I?

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