IMG_3562.JPGToday Liam turned nine. Nine!  And I thought that as a special treat, I would let you eavesdrop on a recent (and typical) walk to school. 

Liam’s mind works in wild, whirling circles; he synthesizes minutiae and detail like a cross between JRR Tolkien and Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Like Dustin Hoffman’s character, Liam frequently doesn’t really conversate; he just wants you to appreciate the ideas being downloaded from his brain.

Nothing deters Liam from his narrative, once he gets going–not sirens, brakes, stop lights, whining little brothers, barking dogs–he just keeps talking. He may have a bright future as an auctioneer.

We leave our building and he’s off:
–So I’m inventing this game and the first level will be Artic Explorer…no…wait, Artic Conqueror. Yeah. Conqueror.
–Uh-huh, that’s a good word.  Do I need to stop at Trader Joe’s for milk or will the line be too long by the time I get back from school
–And that level gets you twenty million points that you can use to get the equipment you need in order to defeat the malevolent invader from the east, because you need an ice ax that emits poison elemental gas when you swing it and then after that level you become an Artic Mage
–Mage, huh? Serious stuff did I answer that student’s email about her thesis and should I circulate that document via email before Thursday’s meeting and should I email the editor to see if she’s got the deadline… 
–But with wizarding abilities… No…no…actually, you need to have the wizarding abilities first, I think, so that then you can strategize to combat the fire-breathing dragons that emerge from the ice… But then when you get to the level where you can enter the melee school of combat training–

I jolt out of my to-do list: Did you just say melee school of combat training?  that’s really funny-

–yeah, I know, so after you’ve trained for three levels you can earn the crossbow of artic death…
–Artic death, sure don’t forget the dry cleaning

And so it goes: quality time with my son. We have mornings like this a lot–just me, Liam, and whatever game Liam is inventing.  I don’t think he knows that I’m only barely listening but maybe this is one of those times where the listening itself doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he wants me there to listen to his tales–and now that he’s nine, I hear the clock ticking louder, counting down the days until I become so uncool that he cannot possibly be seen with me.  

So until that day comes, bring on the Arctic conquerors, wizarding mages, poison-emitting ice axes, and training at the melee school of combat training: I’m all ears.