Mornings here are sometimes a bit chaotic. One kid leaves early on the bus, one leaves late, and the other never goes away. This means that I’m up, early, and then it’s two hours before I have time to think for more than ten minutes at a time. Yes, I know that’s plenty of time in theory, but I’m also consuming caffeine and the brain isn’t yet fully online.
I try to get little chores done during this morning shift in consciousness. Reading blogs or webcomics. Breakfast, laundry shifted from washer to dryer. Short conversations with whichever child is up. An even shorter conversation with my husband before he gets out the door. We’ve worked into a routine, this last month, and it’s a good thing.
But you’re wondering where the snakes come in. Let me hasten to assure you that there were no actual snakes. What there was, the other morning, was a slug. The boy had found it somewhere, and had decided that he wanted to keep it as a pet so he had, logically but not knowledgeably, put it in a small box with a bit of crumpled paper for it to hide under. The first I saw of it was him plunking the box on my desk, whipping off the lid, and asking me to keep it alive while he went to school. I looked in at the shriveled critter, and told him that it needed water to live. “Slugs don’t have exoskeletons, baby, and the paper is just sucking the water out of him.”
Needless to say, the slug didn’t survive, to my quiet relief. I’m not fond of them, which probably dates back to staying with my Great-grandma on the Oregon coast and doing battle with banana slugs in her gardens. The slug in the box led to a longer conversation in the evening, though (it was thoroughly deceased by then). First, I helped the Little Man find an appropriate container for the care and keeping of bugs – a big plastic jar that had once held pretzels. Second, the First Reader and I gave him a list of things he is not allowed to keep in the house. “Snakes, spiders, tarantulas, scorpions…” The First Reader intoned, and the Little Man’s face fell. I told him, “Why don’t you see if you can find an isopod under a log?” Since it was warm for January. I wouldn’t mind snakes, to be honest, but they require a lot more care than he’s ready to give.
Which all led up to this morning’s conversation with the Otaku Princess. She came downstairs with bags in hand, and while she was getting her lunch together, she told me that they have been learning how to code in her Modelling and Simulations class, and she is really enjoying it. “I’ve made two games, and a text thingy, and I wonder if you can do this professionally?”
Why yes, dear, you can. She informed me that they are working in Python, and that she needs to learn to type faster. I suggested the little code app for her phone, the one I’ve been playing with, and that she should start keyboarding practice every day to up her speed. We quickly talked about finding resources to learn Python, and then she was off to the bus.
And I was left sitting at my desk, hollering down to the Little Man that he’d better get his tushie dressed, and thinking about how parenting has changed for me. I’m researching biographies of Alexander Hamilton, and how-to on coding in Python (and also to see if there are other languages and skills she should learn). Once upon a time I was looking for coloring pages of their favorite TV characters like Bear in the Big Blue House and Blue’s Clues. The Little Man wants the third book in the Big Red series by Kjelgaard. The Junior Mad Scientist is working on Latin and algebra and garden planning. She’s successfully mastered making sushi.
Parenting is not easy. But it can have great rewards. And sometimes, unexpected snakes.