I sighed quietly. Seated across the table, Leo, 7, looked up from his homework and asked with such gentle concern, “Papa, is it hard to be a parent?”
“No,” I told him. “Well sometimes things might be challenging, but it’s a pleasure to be a parent.”
Later, he and Jack, 5, sat in their room, jammies on, teeth brushed, ready for bed. But I couldn’t bring myself to make them go to bed. They were having so much fun being brothers right then. No wrestling, no punching, no name calling. It was a conversation, a brainstorm that touched on reason, compassion, rules and interests.
I typed as fast as I could as I listened from my office down the hall and thought about Leo’s question, and how it was truly a pleasure to listen to these two little people make their big plans.
Here’s what I heard.
While making a sign to try to recruit members to their “Flying Horned Dragons Club”, which is to be housed in the Raccoon Den, their clubhouse in the backyard
Jack: But what if we get homeless people?
Leo: We won’t, Jack. The sign says “Kids Club”
Jack: I know the classes I want to teach. You can teach Ninjago. I want to teach Art Club. I can be the person who shows people around…I am the harvest guy…like for harvesting pussy willows.
Leo: Jack you’re not going to lead the pussy willow harvest and other plants…I’m not trying to be mean…I’m going to put Elinor in charge. I just trust her more.
Jack: OK. I’ll lead the crafts. I have a bucket of things. I got it from Christmas. So I get to be, like, the crafts guy.
Jack: That’s fine with me.
Leo: Aren’t you so excited, Jack?
Jack: Yes. We’re going to get money! Dude, you have to pay money for having camps.
Leo: No, not really Jack. We actually have to ask their parents.
Jack: Oh, I have the best idea. It will be summer and people will be walking by. We can just ask if kids want to come.
Leo: Jack you haven’t told me all the camps you want to teach.
Jack: I want Arts, Crafts and Fishing Gear.
Leo: We can’t do Fishing Gear.
Jack: Well I guess fishing gear is kind of dangerous.
Leo: I’ve got some things I want to ask you. Should we do “Making a Paper Hat”
Jack: Sure we can. Who knows how to do that? You can do that…
Leo: Yeah. Okay, (spells out loud) P-A-P-E-R … H-A-T.
Leo: Tomorrow after school, we’ll have the whole Raccoon Den decide if we want to make paper hats, make bow and arrows and quill pens. I’m not positive about bows and arrows.
Jack: Yeah, they could be dangerous.
Leo: I’m not sure about the quill pens.
Jack: Yeah, where are we gonna get the feathers?
Leo: Powell Park, I guess.
Leo: And we’re going to learn first aid.
Jack: Yeah. You really do…(starts whistling a song) I don’t think we really need first aid.
Leo: It’s just safety. We need to.
Leo: In my class there’s going to be a lot of talking. Is that okay if you’re in it? It’s this class where we talk and make all this fun stuff.
Jack: Yes. We should get everything packed for the summer.
Leo: No Jack, that’s what we can do during the weekend.
Leo: And there will be a class: Barefoot Walking. Only if they want to.
Jack: We have a lot flowers. I’m worried someone’s going to step on a bee.
Leo: I said, only if they want to. Barefoot hiking is okay only if they want to. It’s your choice, not mine…it’s just a thing we’re going to do. We’re going to make our feet really strong, really tough.
Jack: We should have a crystal hunt.
Leo: That would be a bad class because we’ll never find a crystal. No one’s going to want to sign up for that. We probably won’t make money at that.
Jack: Are you serious? Dude. I bet a bunch of kids would do it.
Leo: Seriously, it’s a bad idea. If I were doing that? In a yard? Do you think you’ll find a crystal in a yard?
Jack: Shut up.
Leo: If you’re going to be in the camp, you can’t say shut up. I’m going to make a rule, No Bad Words.
Jack: We should give report cards.
Leo: Report cards. You’re a genius! Okay, we’re going to end this meeting.
They dragged blankets to the couch and Leo read aloud to Jack from (The Pocket Version) Dangerous Book For Boys: Things To Do until Jack fell asleep.
All content © Tim LaBarge 2013