Late one afternoon, two boys came bounding off the school bus, ready to head to the sledding hill. The snow was perfect, and they wanted to take in every minute of daylight. Contrary to the number of “snow days” we have here, there is not that much snow; between the icy-snow, the too-wet-slushy-snow, and the quickly-disappearing-snow, sledding days are few and far between.
I have never seen these two fine young people get dressed for the outdoors so quickly and efficiently. Usually someone can’t get a boot over his scruppled sock, or can’t do this or something-or-another, but that day it was effortless.
“Have fun! Just be back before dark,” I called after them as they grabbed the sleds from the garage, already at a full sprint.
The Professor came back at what could arguably be the most exact definition of ‘before dark’, as if he had taken the precise time of sunset, the current moon phase and amount of cloud cover into consideration when determining his entrance. He came through the door just as darkness appeared to fall on that white snow.
After the typical pleasantries were exchanged, I inquired “Where’s your brother?”
“He didn’t think it was dark yet.”
Now at this point, I was just curious. When, exactly, would The Little One think it was dark? If this wasn’t dark, what was??? This sounded like a loophole, and finding loopholes is one of his specialities.
5:45 rolled around, then 6:00, then 6:15. From my biased view in the warm kitchen (actually cooking dinner), it still looked quite dark outside to me. Finally at 6:20, he came bursting in the door. “That was so FUN! The snow was perfect! Yada, yada, yada blahblahblah……” I wasn’t listening. I had morphed into Mrs. PotatoHead with my angry eyes on. Not because it was that late, or that I was worried about his safety, because I wasn’t — it was that he had blatantly disobeyed my instructions to be home before, well, you know.
“But, Mom — it wasn’t really dark yet!” It was his story and he was sticking to it. Like I could not look out the window with my Mrs. PotatoHead interchangeable accessories and see night for myself.
After a discussion of consequences for his less-than-stellar choice toward darkness-perception, we settled into a fine evening.
A fate would have it, the next evening I found myself outside at 6:15. Inside, as I bundled up in my coat and gloves, a cursory glance out the window and I knew it was dark. “I know dark when I see dark, mumble grumble…” I muttered under my breath as I opened the garage door and stepped outside into the crisp night air. But out there on the driveway under the clear sky? Umm, I have to say, it wasn’t what I thought. I saw the last pink ribbons of sunset on the western horizon. At 6:15.
Now, I love how the Professor is so literal. His desire to follow the rules lends me a (probably false) sense of security as we coast into these teen years. Somehow I feel I will have less to worry about with him when he is in high school. I like knowing what to expect from him, and he feels the same way about me.
But I also love how The Little One is so full of surprises… How to squeeze a little more fun out of the moment. How he can fly by the seat of his pants, even down the sledding hill. How when it is almost dark, it isn’t quite dark yet, exactly.
These two boys, the ying and yang, they both remind me every day that no matter how dark it may look at first glance, it is never quite as dark as it seems. And even if it was, I’d be fine as long as I have them bursting through the door.