Monday, September 26, 2011

Beat the Clock

I’ve noticed something about kids, or at least my kids. Though wildly, insatiably curious, they are also wildly, incurably impatient. Which means that while Primo and Seconda are constantly firing questions at me, they give me approximately 30 seconds to reply. I have one half of a minute to form my answers to questions like “Why is Ben Franklin so famous?” and “Do some people eat rats?” or else their attention span expires and its on to the next thing.

Primo: “What does ‘conjuring’ mean?”

Me: “Oh, that’s a great word. Well, OK, to conjure means to bring forth, to create, usually in a magical sense but not always. It depends on the context. So a person could conjure emotions, feelings – “

Primo: “When are we eating dinner?”

The funny thing is, I feel genuinely injured when they get so bored by what I think is an intriguing and well-though out response to a good question but I distinctly remember feeling bored to TEARS when I’d ask my dad something similar and he would do the same thing.

Me: “What’s the difference between a vein and an artery?”

My dad: “To understand that, you need to understand the human heart – “

And I was zoned out. Totally not listening. Regressed asking.

It seemed to me like my dad would go on and on and on, 10 minutes or more=, in response to a simple question, but looking back, I think he probably talked for approximately thirty seconds. It only felt like an eternity.

I wanted only the main idea, the distilled-down-for-maximum-potency formula. One sentence or less. And I see that’s exactly what my kids want. But now that I’m a parent, I understand that my objective is to pass on all this shit I know -- half the time shit I only half-know or made-up, no matter – to make them think I’m really smart and all-knowing. But, a smarter mind than mine said brevity is the soul of wit, and so I think from now on, I will try to form my replies to the kids’ questions in the form of Twitter posts, under 140 characters.

“Why do some days feel so long and other days feel so short?”

“Time flies when you’re having fun. Next!”

“I want to make a human clone. What d I need?”

“DNA otherwise known as deoxyribonucleic acid. And luck. Next!”

“What does ‘singular’ mean?”

“One of a kind. Unique. Next!”

“Why does Daddy like beef jerky and you don’t?”

“Mommy has tastebuds and Daddy’s from the South. Next!”

I could make this into a freaking game show.