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The collected wit and wisdom of my children

My 12-year-old daughter, W., was preparing to brush her teeth and reflecting on how she’s changed over the past year. She said, “I’m about 10% more mature and 20% more gay.”

The other day, W. was telling my mother the story of the Torah portion she’s studying for her bat mitzvah. When she finished, my mom asked, “So–what’s the moral of the story?” And my 8-year-old son, J., said: “Don’t insult a Jew or you’ll fall off your donkey.” Which is funny even if you don’t know the original story (which I don’t).

W. was feeling sad because J. had received a great deal of praise for swimming underwater for the first time, while W.’s achievements in the pool, including swimming a slightly longer distance than usual, had been overlooked. As W. and I sat on her bed and talked through her feelings, J. would drift in and out, waiting for the conversation to end so he and W. could start playing together. Eventually he passed through the room and said, in a mock-formal tone, “I myself often feel that I am too spoiled.”

And then later, as he was getting ready for bed, J. said to me: “The attention I get is both a blessing and a curse.”

What I saw

An entry in my son’s April journal, a regular writing exercise in his second grade classroom:

What I saw was not normal. It had a cat’s head and a wolf’s snout. It had monkey fur too. But whatever I saw I want it.

The writing on the wall

At the aforementioned birthday celebration, my son and his group of friends found graffiti on a wall behind a tall hedge in a park. They decided that it was the key to a mystery, which they spent the next 30 minutes trying to solve. It said: Love stories may save me.

I believe that children are the future, part MCLLVI

My daughter asked to have a spider removed from her room. When we didn’t respond quickly enough, she said, in a raised voice, “Regarding the aforementioned spider, please remove it!”

My son and a few friends were celebrating his 8th birthday. They had finished one game and were considering what to do next. One of them said, “Let’s steal a minivan!”

My son and daughter were playing an imaginary game the logic of which I was unable to follow. But eventually my daughter said to my son, “Why are you hiding a nun from me?”

Later this morning

In the second-grade hallway of my son’s school, saw worksheets by students responding to the prompt: “I will take concrete steps to reach my goal of:”

A sample of the responses:

Getting a horse
Being a chemist
Seeing my dad
Being a nanny
Getting to the major league
Becoming a YouTuber

The smartest thing

The smartest thing I did on Tuesday was read poems by Tomas Tranströmer. It was an accident that kept me breathing.

The smartest thing I did this morning was read poems by Jean Valentine. Here’s one:

 

Friend

 

Friend I need your hand every morning

but anger and beauty and hope

these roses make one rose.

 

Friend I need a hand every evening

but anger and hope and beauty

are three roses

that make one rose.

 

Let’s fix our bed it’s in splinters

and I want to stay all year.

 

Let’s fix our bed it’s in splinters

and I want to stay all year.

 

Did you hear what that woman on Grafton Street was saying?

 

You won’t be killed today.

We don’t even know we’re born.

 

Jenna and Wesley

I just need you to know that I love this podcast, hosted by Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, two smart people with interesting friends, expansive minds, and genuine friend-chemistry between them.

They’re not afraid to be goofy, but there’s a minimum of in-jokey pod-chatter. They’re not afraid to get deeply analytical, but they don’t showboat. And they’re not afraid to be emotional, period. (They were audibly distraught in their first post-election session–and then they visited the amazing Margo Jefferson, who talked about not wanting to leave her apartment the day after the election “because I didn’t want to behave.”)

Jenna and Wesley also write for the Times–thoughtful, humane, complicated writing about culture and technology and politics and so on. They’ll make you proud to have a working brain and a beating heart.

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