I am at an age when "living on the edge" means sleeping without my orthopedic pillow. I'm not into extreme sports or roller coaster rides that make my heart feel like it will burst out of my chest. I figure I'll live longer if I can manage to keep both feet on the ground. I don't even like horror movies. They give me nightmares. There is nothing that is less conducive to a good nights sleep than visions of evil sugarplums armed with machetes and nefarious intentions. Even my pillow couldn't help me sleep through that. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I don't have those heart-stopping moments throughout my life. I have children. When you have children, you tend to live day by day on the edge of your proverbial seat. You have nightmares anyway, but they are about your children falling off cliffs or being abducted by a madman. Who needs to add horror movies to your life when your dreams are already filled with such menace? The ups and down of everyday life with children can be as challenging as the worlds highest roller coaster. My eight-year old skipped off the bus the other day and announced that he'd seen a murder on the way home from school.
The world stopped turning momentarily. As I tallied up the cost of the therapy that would be needed for this child and tried to force some reasonable response from my slack lips, he continued: "You know, a murder. A group of crows." This information sunk in, my heart started beating again and birds began to sing. Not crows, but some bird that tweets sweetly. "You learned about groups today in school, huh?" "Yep!" he answered proudly, as if he didn't almost give me a heart attack. "Well, then, what's a group of geese called?" "He squinches up his nose and says, A google, I think." "That would be a gaggle." "I like google better because gaggle sounds like they are about to puke." "Which would explain the honking noise they make, I suppose. But actually, Google is what you use to find something on the internet." "Oh, I thought that was called a computer," he says as he skips away. My heart rate settles down to normal, but the day is not over yet. It's time to find something to make for dinner. I open the freezer and my heart does another somersault because right there at eye level is a plastic Dixie cup full of ants. It took a moment for my frozen brain to conclude that they were all dead and none have lived long enough to contaminate my food. Then I did what any mother would do: I yelled out the name of the most likely suspect which happened to be my thirteen year old. Just to make sure there would be no doubt about whom I was summoning, I yelled, in staccato, his first, middle and last names.
He appeared before me, knowing by the tone of my voice that he was in deep trouble. I opened the freezer door once again with an implied question. No words were needed. " I was putting them in a cryogenic freeze," he explained. I wanted to see if they would come back to life after they thawed out." He peered into the freezer. "I can't tell if their little eyes are open, can you?" "I don't care if they are spouting Shakespeare, you could have at least put a lid on them!" I find it difficult to stem the flow of scientific creativity in my young progeny. After all I might need that kind of science one day after my heart decides to give up the fight.