Patient Husband: What time is it?
Me: Eleven o’clock.
Kiddo#2: It is not! It’s eleven-oh-five.
Me: That’s what I said. It’s eleven o’clock.
Kiddo#2: But the clock says —
Patient Husband: Don’t be over-specific. Everyone hates that.
Me: To be precise, 98.357% of Americans in middle-class households with two wage-earners and college degrees hate over-specificity.
Patient Husband: Thank you, Mr. Data. What, no seconds?
It’s a phase, right? Tell me it’s a phase and not the start of the teenage years, that my seven year old knows more than anyone around her (with the exception of Kiddo#1, who also thinks he knows it all.)
Kiddo#2: Why does it say INRI over the cross?
Me: It’s an abbreviation. I think it means Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews.
Kiddo#2: And none of those letters are in that.
Me: It’s in Latin.
She’s getting the whole world worked out in her head, and it’s interesting to watch her begin that pendulum-swing between having it all together and being a little girl. In one moment she’s saying “I can do it all” and in the next, she’s incapable of picking up her discarded tissue from the floor (where she herself discarded it.)
And then she surprises me. There’s a kid in the Angelborough Public School who’s been hospitalized. With stage IV cancer. The child is three years old and shares a teacher with Kiddo#3 (K3 is in the morning class; this child is in the afternoon.) Understandably the school is shaken, and they’re trying to find ways of helping the family. The first of these is a coin drive.
This morning I took a plastic baggie and filled it with a handful of coins from our Coin Vase for each Kiddo to bring to school. I was about to tie a knot in it when she stopped me.
“I have change left over from yesterday when I bought an ice cream.” She’s allowed to buy ice cream at lunch with her allowance. “I was going to buy another ice cream today, but he needs it more than I do.”
She went to her lunch bag to retrieve the extra fifty cents and added it to the bag.
I told her that was sweet, but “sweet” doesn’t really cover it. Because my first instinct was to tell her, “You don’t have to do that,” and my second was to say, “Compared to the amount of money the family must need right now, you really could go ahead and get that ice cream.”
But those are the words of a cynic. In her innocent heart, she sees her ice cream as the equivalent of this three-year-old’s chemotherapy, and so the sacrifice is nothing: how could she enjoy an ice cream at the cost of someone’s life?
So I told her what she was doing was very sweet. But she knew that already.