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Two brains in a pod

Ethan’s brain has always amazed me, but lately, it seems it has been exploding with a kind of curiosity and wonder that is surprising in a five-year-old. Every day, he asks me and Jack questions about life, nature, science, people. A couple of times a week, however, a question pops up that seriously stops us in our tracks.

Last week: “When the car turns one way, why do our bodies turn the other way?”

This week: “When I roll my carrots on my plate, why does the first carrot roll the same way as the third carrot, but the second carrot rolls the other direction?”

I think I do a fair job of giving him an immediate explanation, but I usually end it with, “Let’s remember that question and call Pobba tonight!”

Pobba is my father. His fervent love of science is matched only by his dedication to creativity. My dad is, in short, a talented and brilliant man, and his relationship with Ethan is very special. Dad thinks Ethan is very much like he was when he was a kid: incredibly energetic, and incredibly curious about nature, science, how things work. Smart and charismatic. Maybe a little too smart and charismatic.

Yesterday, while finishing up his homework, Ethan declared he wanted to be a Boy Scout. I told him I didn’t know if Daddy had ever been one (he was), but that I was pretty sure Pobba had been one. Ethan’s face lit up. “Let’s call him and ask him about it!” He sat on the couch for a good ten minutes, still and silent, while listening to whatever my dad was saying. We were then reminded of the carrot question, which resulted in another ten minutes of silent listening, ending with Ethan saying, “I have to go tell this to my Mom!”

He ran up to me and exclaimed, “You won’t believe this, Mommy. Pobba says kids don’t even think of asking that question until the FOURTH GRADE! Here, he wants to talk to you.”

“It’s amazing that he even noticed the carrots,” he told me,  “but even more amazing that he recognized that there is something to notice at all.” Hearing that from my dad, and knowing that discussing these types of questions only strengthens their relationship, makes me so incredibly proud of both of them.

It isn’t just interesting questions about nature and science that bonds these two. Storytelling plays a huge role. “Mommy? Instead of reading a story tonight can we call Pobba so he can tell me a story over the phone?” I get this kind of request at least once a week, usually when Jack is working late, and Dad is more than willing to comply. Frankly, it is nice for me on days when I’m flat-out tired: I lie down next to Ethan in his bed with the phone on speaker and zonk out. Good parenting, huh?

Requests such as, “Pobba, tell me a story about dinosaurs and booby traps and miniature golf, please,” are always met with an enthusiastic, “Sure!” My dad is never one to back down from a story challenge. Sometimes it is in the form of, “Pobba? Mommy says we have twelve minutes for a story,” and and in seconds I am listening to “Deep in a dark, dark forest, in the midst of a small clearing, a single golf ball lay in the bright green weeds…”.

I can’t wait until Ethan is old enough for Dad’s Cheesie Mack novels. I’m hoping Dad will be up to reading them to him over the phone.  In the meantime, I’m sure their conversations will be full of physics and chemistry, dinosaurs and pirates, Rube Goldberg machines and miniature golf, and who knows what else?

How lucky for them both!

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