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Verdi is reading Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, a massive scifi novel. He was at a workshop on biodiesel this week. Bear is reading Groovy Greeks, which Verdi devoured in one half hour after it arrived. He hit the beach and got some good swimming time in this past week. Terran made his first pro/con list this week, about whether to go to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival with his dad or downstate to visit Grammy with me. This morning in the car on the way to the free summer movies at the big fancy theater up in the mall (to see Coraline, which he then retold with people he knows in the main roles), Terran asked Robin how exactly evolution works. Robin has magic explaining skills and managed to keep Terran engaged and get the actual facts of it across. Wanting to record that reminded me to make note in this more permanent blog format of a couple of other good conversations we’ve had around here lately. As I recorded them at the time…

Bear: How can the elliptical machine tell what your heart rate is? Does it have sensors that hear your heartbeat?
Verdi: It uses an algorithm based on weight and speed, probably.
Bear: So you mean it makes a sci-assumption.
Verdi: It’s called an algorithm.
Bear: I prefer to call it science-umption. Sci-assumption.
Verdi: They actually do it with an algorithm.
Bear: SCIASSUMPTION.
Verdi: Algorithm.
Bear: ♪ SCIIIII! ASSUMPT! IOOOOON! ♪
Verdi: *closes eyes, begins deep breathing exercises*

Terran: Hey Mama, what happens in the brains of boys to make them suddenly start hating girls?
Me: That’s a good question. I don’t really know, but I think you’re right about that feeling being characteristic of a particular neurodevelopmental stage.
Terran: What happens to girls at that age? Do they start hating boys, hating other girls, or hating themselves?
Me: . . . Actually maybe it is social or cultural because at the same age boys are starting to call girls gross, girls suffer a loss of self-esteem. You could call it self-hatred.
Terran: *nods sagely* But that’s not likely to happen to me. First of all, I’m homeschooled, so I’m not being raised like other kids. But secondly, my best friend is a girl, my cousin who is my best-friend-I’m-related-to is a girl, and, DUH, my MAMA is a girl.

When Verdi was small I called him Justice Boy because everything absolutely had to be right and fair. He was worse than Clark Kent. He was so serious and solemn about all things in his determination to do what was good and right. Today I sent him off with his little brother to a situation I judged dangerous. Seeing my anxiety about it, he threw off his recent apathethic-adolescent coolness, looked me dead in the eye, and with a solemnity that brought that six-year-old Justice Boy rushing back from my memory, assured me he’d protect his brother. Words can not express how honored I am to be this young man’s mother.

Me: What are you doing?
Verdi: Walking in circles.
Me: Could you please take a penny, scrub it til it’s shiny, then put it in a ziploc baggie full of water, and tack that near the backdoor?
Verdi: Okay.
Terran: What?
Me: ♪ It was midnight on the ocean, not a streetcar was in sight, and the sun was shining brightly, for it rained all day that night. ‘Twas a summer night in winter and the rain was snowing fast and a barefoot boy with shoes on stood a-sitting in the grass.
Terran: . . . Oh.”
Bear: *squints at us with eyebrows furrowed

We have a weird new game and one card that was in play required all players to say “comic sans is awesome” before drawing a card. Terran, on his turn, could not abide this. He choked out, about to cry: “I’ll lose a life. I won’t say it is awesome against my will.” And he didn’t, and soon he realized he was going to lose all his lives this way right quick. Bear said, “He’s a paladin of Times New Roman.” Robin was able to console Terran by impressing upon him how valiant a choice that is and how rare it is for adults to be able to make it, but the look Terran gave Verdi next he heard him praise the font was so full of grown-up disappointment that I couldn’t hide my snicker.

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