Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bus Stop Conversations

When I am on closing shift, I walk Peter and Sam to the bus stop in the morning. Sam's bus comes first, so about five to ten minutes, it's just Peter and I, waiting for his bus.

We cross to the other side of the street to catch his bus. Pete steps up onto the roots of a tree beside the sidewalk. The tree is tall, and the roots are gnarled and push up the sidewalk from beneath, cracking it in places. The footing is uneven, and he stumbles before climbing back up and asking me, "Dad...what's the biggest dragon?"

"The biggest?"


"That'd be the red dragon, wouldn't it?"

He thinks for a minute. It's cold out and he breathes his breath like fire.

I ask him, "What's the white dragon's breath weapon?"

"Ice," he answers. Then goes on to explain that it could also be bolts that freeze things and not, perhaps, a cone of continuous ice as you may be picturing.

"What's the green dragon's breath weapon?" I ask.

His brow furrows. "Green dragon?"

"Yeah...poisonous gas?"

"Oh YEAH....!" The kids have been watching new episodes of How to Train Your Dragon on Netflix. We don't have cable, so I got Roku internet, so the kids could watch cartoons. Elise talked me into subscribing to Netflix so we could watch The Chef's Table, a documentary series on different famous chefs. Perhaps not coincidentally, the kids are also now able to download and watch a basically an infinite stream of cartoons.

Elise was challenged recently to explain how we used to watch TV to the kids when they were upset they had to come to dinner before finishing the show they were watching. It was like trying to explain a rotary phone or typewriter. "You know...when I was your age...when we came home from school and turned on the TV, we just had to watch whatever was on. Even if we had to start in the middle of a show. We didn't get to start a new show every time we turned the TV on and we didn't always get to finish the show we were watching." This was TV when it was more passive, something that just ran in the background. Now, the kids can sit down and literally watch the entire season of a show in a marathon sitting if we let them.

"What's the blue dragon's breathe weapon?" I asked Petey.


"What's the black dragon's breath weapon?"


"Really?" I ask. "I thought it might be shadow or smoke. Okay...what's the red dragon's breath weapon?"

"That's easy."

"That is easy. Fire."

Pete started making flame noises just as we heard the school bus coming to a screeching stop at the street corner. I gave him a hug (none of the kids can hug front-facing, they all back into a hug or offer their side in a "side hug") and told him to be good for mom when he gets home from school. He usually is...at least, after he gets some food in his system. He routinely gets off the bus in the afternoon red-lining, flying on fumes, bonking hard. And is a nightmare until his blood sugar stabilizes.

It's a good thing he doesn't have a breath weapon then.

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