“Dad. What’s a sedge?”
Oh, boy, here we go again.
“Where did you get that word?’
“In a book…”
Oh. Well. So. That’s good, then.
“Well, son…that’s really very simple, and kind of a long story.”
The other one is nowhere to be seen, (or heard,) but the kid crawls into my lap, and we are off. We sit there and look at the pictures on the screen.
God, how I love Wikipedia.
“Sedges, cyperaceae, kind of look like this: only daddy’s not an expert.” Even though he took you camping last summer and we go for walks in the woods all the time.
“So they look like grass then?”
“Well, yes and no. They look like weeds. They look like all kinds of crazy, uh, stuff. The stalks are triangular—that’s why the Egyptians, when they used short reeds of papyrus to write with, had that triangular cuneiform script…or something like that. Remember? They wrote on clay, on wax tablets.”
“People weren’t very smart back then.”
That one got a smile.
“Did they use it to draw with?”
“Yup. And they made hieroglyphics with ‘em, too.”
“Hieroglyphics. They look like birds and eyes and cats and that’s what people used back then. They put all kinds of crazy stuff on the walls when they buried the Pharoah.”
He’s seen all of this before, but one wonders if they listen or even see the TV at all sometimes. It’s like they have a mysterious inner world all of their own. It’s where they go when they’re being quiet…
“Why would they want to do that?’
“Ah, because he was dead. But we’ll get into that another time. Anyhow, sedges grow in wetlands.”
He likes rivers.
“…and this is a bog….where sedges grow…”
Holy crap, dads know everything, don’t we?
“Can we go there next year?”
“Meh…maybe when you’re a little older.” It’s a long drive to spend five minutes and then everyone gets bored and we go for ice cream…
“I’m frickin’ eleven, dad.”
“Ah, yes, so you are.”
“How about this one?”
“Maybe in a few years.”
His mind drifts a little, which is good as he’s sitting on my keys and they’re digging a hole in my hip-bone. You would think he’s a bit old for this. His attention is wandering. He’ll be off in a minute.
“You said you saw a mouse the other day.”
“Did he look like this?
“Yep.” The little blighter gets off me finally, and no doubt it’s time to whine for another chocolate milk even though he’s had three already.
Either that or a can of pop. Of which he’s had two already…
“Well, then, you saw a mouse. Or a vole—whatever you prefer to call it.” If I’m not careful, we’ll end up doing a science fair project on the damned things…
He saw it swimming across the ditch or something.
It was all very exciting at the time, but at that age what happened in yesterday stays in yesterday.
“Can I have a chocolate milk?”
And now we are getting to the bottom of things. So that’s what this is all about…
Ah, what the hell.
“Sure—and then you get to go up and clean your room.”
Even I laughed at that one.
I really ought to know better.
“Can you get that yourself? Dad’s working.”
A sly grin crosses his face.
“You’ll have to wash yourself a really big glass…”
The smile fades, but he ain’t stupid.
“No…you do it for me.”
Oh, yes. That’s right. You’re just a little kid, and completely helpless…which is sweet as long as it lasts.
Ah, what the hell.
The little bastards have got you every time.
Here's my short western mystery Switch-Play on iTunes.