With two kids in school, and two at home, life feels calmer in the morning hours … more conducive to conversations about life goals. Our four-year-old very seriously posed a conundrum different from others I have faced: “Mommy, when I’m a grownup, do you want me to be a pirate or a hunter?”
Funny, neither of these had actually been in my top 10 choices. This child is fascinated with any kind of weapon. He doesn’t actually have any real weapons. The closest he gets is a water gun. Recently he made some sort of weapon with a collection of his brother’s toothbrushes. So now we can all look forward to sharing whatever germs they have been harboring.
To our dismay, he has been digging around in our knife drawer. I tried to demystify knives by having him help me cut carrots, but since then he’s been mostly more obsessed with cutting various vegetables and fruits.
He’s been a little sad to go to school and I was trying to cheer him up by suggesting, “You’ll color and draw there. Don’t you like to color and draw?”
“How about painting and crafts?”
“How about cutting and pasting?”
His face brightened. “I love to cut!”
Then he frowns. “But only with knives and chainsaws.”
He told me that he thought it would be better to be a hunter because pirates have sort of a dangerous job, but hunters never go hungry. That is certainly one way to look at it.
The other career option he is seriously considering is that of a violinist. We’re starting him on the “Twinkles.” Aren’t human beings a mystery?
Dave Brubeck came to town in December and I went to hear him. Great concert, and Congregation Beth Yeshurun’s sanctuary was not a bad venue. The first half was the Quartet (Bobby Militello, alto sax; Michael Moore, bass; Randy Jones, drums) playing a set of standards. The guys were all in fine form, Brubeck included. The second half was a performance of some of his sacred choral compositions that integrate classical and jazz elements; a chamber orchestra and choir shared the stage with the Quartet who improvised in long interludes. (The Houston Chamber Choir’s performance left nothing to be desired in any respect.) Brubeck’s wife Iola had written the words for all the pieces and was in attendance.
I hung out in the cold outside for half an hour after the concert and succeeded in getting backstage to meet the Brubecks. Brubeck is an amazing guy. He’s 86 and still pulling off three-hour-plus concerts. He lingered for over an hour afterward to greet fans. When it was my turn I thanked both of them for the music. Then I handed him my copy of Jazz at Oberlin, saying something about how much I treasure the record. His response was, “Oh! That’s one of my favorites, too.” I told him that my dad had seen him perform twice, the two appearances separated by half a century. Brubeck asked where it was that my dad had seen him 50 years ago. I guessed Long Beach. (My dad later told me it had been San Francisco.)
Over Christmas a few weeks ago we were in my hometown of Oberlin, Ohio. Although the historic Finney Chapel was undergoing some renovations we were able to get inside during our last day in Oberlin. Jazz at Oberlin was recorded in this hall in 1953. A fact usually overlooked by history books is that I received my high school diploma on the same stage in 1989. You can impress your friends by telling them the trivia item about how I proceeded to bore and bewilder the graduation audience by playing—while still dressed in my royal-blue cap and gown—a solo violin piece I had written for a girl earlier that year.
I’ve written about heroes before. While visiting my hometown over Christmas I visited one of my favorite high school teachers, John Randall. I learned that he’s fighting inoperable lung cancer and may not have long to live. His and his wife Dawn’s courage, and the use they’re making of the time he has left, are inspiring to me. His weblog is recommended reading.
It was particularly meaningful for me to visit John as I hoped for a positive outcome to my friend Greg’s lung surgery last Friday. Greg possess a frank realism, good humor and tenacious love of life that are contagious, even if his stage-four colon cancer isn’t. I am profoundly grateful to God that I can call Greg and Christine friends and glimpse his grace at work in the midst of their suffering. Greg braved some seriously awful hours last weekend as he recovered from his surgery but he’s doing much better.
Let’s keep praying!
It’s been a while since we’ve posted. A lot has happened. The baby is eating solids, and trying to crawl. I’m trying to crawl out of bed. :)
I thought I’d share a few glimpses into life at Casa Jonsson. Our three oldest sons have taken after their father as men of deep thought (though our third is also known as our “man of action.”) At parent-teacher conferences last week, I learned that our second-grader has been doing experiments related to surface tension with his class. Apparently, after seeing how many pennies were required to break the surface tension of the glass, he immediately inquired how many would be required to break the tension of an ocean.
Our first-grader is also very interested in science. In the way of six-year-olds, he is highly literal, and takes everything at face value. I caught him in the bathroom about a week ago, spitting on the tile. Mommies do not tend to encourage children to spit on the tile. But I was dissuaded from my rebuke when I learned that he was doing it to see if he could paralyze some tiny ants on the floor, since after all, the saliva of spiders paralyzes its prey. He was convinced that his saliva could also paralyze, but methinks it was just the sheer quantity of it that drowned the little creatures.
During his conference, I learned that they are learning about how symbols can equal other things. For example, the children were asked to put various letters, each of which had a number value, in order, from smallest to greatest. This caused him great consternation. “Does v really equal 28? I mean is v the same as 28?” he was reported to have asked. The response was that just for this exercise, v was equal to 28. “Okay, because just so you know E = mc².” He read a book about Einstein over a year ago, but apparently, this tidbit of information stuck. Be careful what you say around children! They remember everything!
Finally, you might be wondering what Number Three Son is working on. For him, it’s all about the science of comparisons. Velocity: “Our car is faster than their car!” (Our car being a minivan … their car being a Corvette.) Mass: My muscles are bigger than Hercules’s. My muscles are bigger than God’s. Volume: I can eat more than Papi can.
I’m sure over time his experiments will prove that he has some faulty hypotheses.
Somebody else also thinks Rails scaffolding could use an update. That’s gratifying.
I just discovered a new and amazing phenomenon called Freecycle. I tried it today for the first time. The goal of the site is to help our growing landfill problem by playing matchmaker for unwanted yet still useful-to-someone items. This morning I listed about six items. Within hours I had more than 20 responses. People are picking up the items from my porch within the next hour. It didn’t go to the trash. These are strange items, like dishwasher silverware baskets. You wouldn’t think so many people would want them. The most interesting response I got came from a photographer who thought the stuff I offered would be interesting for a photo … and no, I was not one of the items available.
Try it, you’ll love it.
Excerpts from a recent Ann Landers piece:
Stay-at-home moms put in long hours
I need your help with something. My 16-year-old grandson seems to think that all his mother does is stay at home.
He conveniently “forgets” that she is a housekeeper, gardener, cook, teacher, nurse, driver and mediator.
Could you please print a breakdown of what a stay-at-home wife should be paid?
I would love to have the list so I can pass the “bill” on to him.
Vivian in Colonial Beach, Va.
According to Census Bureau figures for 2004—which are the most recent—there are 36.7 million mothers of minor children in the United States. About one third of them, 10.8 million, are stay-at-home moms.
According to an article penned by Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, in its May 12 edition, “Salary.com compensation experts estimate that stay-at-home moms work an average of 91.6 hours a week.”
That’s more than double the number of hours the average office worker puts in.
He went on to say, “That should be worth $133,121 annually.”
It isn’t news to those of you who know Nils and me well: we aren’t pet people. That might be an understatement. We don’t even want a goldfish. I’ve often said I’d rather have another baby than a pet, and I don’t make claims like that lightly.
You pet lovers will be amused to hear that, despite our efforts not to give aid or comfort to the enemy, the animal kingdom has succeeded in pulling the wool over our eyes.