“You know mommy? I’d like to have a jellyfish for a pet. That would be very cool!”
My son pauses in thought in the back seat. “They look so cool floating in the water.”
On the way home in the car is where a great many of my now 11 year old son’s greatest ideas and our ensuing conversations take place. Many of them lend to the rather extra-ordinary or even surreal vs. your average, run of the mill kind of small talk between kids and parents.
Subjects range anywhere from “I wonder what the biggest splinter in the world would be?” to “What if the biggest rainstorm was a drizzle,” to “What if we had a time machine but no one else could have one,” “What if there were zombie crickets,” or “I wonder what would happen if you microwaved gun powder?”
And sometimes more ordinary vocal expulsions escape his cranium, like how he’s pretty sure that every time he’s hungry he sees a Burger King. (I don’t know why – we don’t eat there, and I don’t like fast food.)
Anyway, I’ve gotten (mostly) used to his sudden outbursts of thought (or song) from the passenger seat and try to follow along. I’m beginning to think I should write a book titled, “Viewpoints From the Passenger Seat,” or something like that. Maybe help pay for some of the grey hairs it’s earned me too.
“Hmmmm…” I start to reply thoughtfully. He doesn’t always start out with a subject I have much comment on, but this time he did.
“I wonder if jellyfish are legal to own as pets?” I start out. “You know… I always wanted to have a big salt water tank with sea anemones and such. The kind of tank that’s built into a wall. You know – like the one we saw at that hospital? Only thing is, I know they are expensive to maintain. I’ll have to be a lot wealthier before I can do that.” A little sigh escapes my lips.
“You know, Mommy?” my son starts again. “What if a whole house was made up of a fish tank? Like the whole house is a fish tank? THAT would be REALLY cool!”
“Sounds like an aquarium to me,” I say.
“Noooo,” my son quickly corrects me.
“No, like the walls are all built with fish tanks instead of regular walls. And even the plumbing would be covered in glass and if there’s a problem with the pipes, you could just see it. And fish would be swimming all over your house through all the places there would normally be walls! And you could see right through the walls to the fish swimming in the other room!”
Quietly, oddball mental images form in my mind from his descriptions. All the while, I simultaneously focus on not losing physical sight of the road I’m driving either.
Ever try to both imagine a mental picture and see to maneuver something physical at the same time? Not really the easiest combo. And my son’s descriptions are so vivid and off-the-wall at times that it really can be a challenge to listen and yet not lose sight of the physical world while I try to follow his conversation. (Honestly, there are times when I’m tired that I just have to shut off the ears while I drive.)
“So how would that work?” I ask. “What happens if someone throws a rock, or there’s a hail storm or a tree falls over on it? What then,” my wicked little smile playing in the rear view.
“MOMmy,” he says. “I said it would be cool, not practical…! What do you take me for?”
I bust out laughing!