Small Stories for a Big World



In days gone by, Garnet and I would talk about things at the end of the day after Sparkle Girl and Doobins had gone to bed. That happens far less often than it once did. It’s a combination of them staying up later and us fading earlier, so that, even if we’re awake, we’re less likely to feel the urge to talk about matters of substance.

These days, Garnet and I most often have such talks on weekend mornings. We don’t set out to do it. It just happens while we drink our coffee. Often, it’s one of my favorite times in the week. Those conversations tend to end whenever one of the kids wakes up and comes in. If we need to wrap up a topic, we do that later.

Late evening has become a good time to sit and just talk with Sparkle Girl and Doobins. As they brush their teeth, they will talk with each of us about their respective days. I try to respect that time and just leave them be.

Sometimes, though, they continue their conversation on the couch. If the topic is not how annoying their parents are or some other topic in which adults have no place, they’re happy to have me join them. The other night, the end-of-the-night topic was unwelcome extras that people have found in their food.

Thanks to Google, Doobins was quite well-informed on the topic, and he told Sparkle and me about some nasty surprises that I had never heard of. I asked him whether I had ever told the story about my friend who had found a stainless-steel bolt in her macaroni and cheese when a bunch of us from work had gone out for lunch. I held up my fingers to show him that it was about 2 inches long and a quarter inch in diameter.

No, he said. Do tell.

The story ends with us learning that the bolt was an essential component of the restaurant’s electric cheese-grating machine. The kitchen worker who had been grating cheese by hand for the past couple of days was so grateful that it had been found that he brought the grating mechanism to our table and showed us how the bolt kept it all together.

Doobins liked that story.

As I have noted in an earlier column, lately I have been mourning the departure of Thomas the Train, Legos, Playmobil and such from my life. What’s true, though, is they have been replaced by less tangible gifts. Doobins, who will be 14 in October, has joined Sparkle Girl as someone I can just talk to about life in general.

As we ride along in the car, we will just talk about this and that. I like that he finds so much in life that makes him smile.

In my day job, I talk to a lot of teachers. Some say they love working with kindergarten students and can’t imagine teaching high school students. Some say they can’t imagine dealing with kindergarten students all day and love teaching high school, because the students have become people you can talk to. Teachers who choose middle school often say they enjoy working with students at a time when they’re making choices about who they want to become. Each age offers its attractions and draws teachers who particularly appreciate what students that age offer.

With being a parent, you have to keep making adjustments. No, wait! I’m not ready to give up Playmobil yet. Each new stage does indeed bring new satisfactions, though.

 


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