Today my son is 8 years old. Here’s a conversation between Nick and his friend Peter that I overheard as I followed them home from school a few weeks ago:
“Nick, I didn’t see you at playtime today. Where were you?” Peter is peering at Nick, owl-eyed, through his glasses as they walk along in front of me.
“I was at the library so I wouldn’t cough because I was poorly yesterday. I was looking at the Guinness Book of World Records, 2008.”
“Cool! Did you read about Sensei Lee?”
“Sensei Lee. He’s the greatest karate master ever! He’d be in the book.”
“Well, I didn’t see him,” starts Nick, with a sceptic’s tone, “how strong is he?”
“He’s so strong! He’s the strongest Sensei ever!”
“If he stomped on the pavement right here, how big would the crack be? Would it just be across the pavement or would it go from this side of the road to the other?”
Peter cocks his head to the side and looks up and down the street. “Nick, if he stomped right here the crack would go from that end of the street,” he motions to the houses at the end of the cul de sac, “out to the High Street,” pointing at the intersection the other direction. “We’d fall in,” he concludes, giving Nick a serious stare.
“Okay, but if he were to blow his hardest, would he blow over one car or two cars?”
“Nick, I really wouldn’t want him to do that because if he blew his hardest, he could blow over a lorry and it would make such a muddle.”
“How high can he jump?”
“He can jump up to the top of my house in just one jump. He can even jump as high as Mars if he wants. He can jump from my house to your house without touching the ground.”
“But what’s his weakness, Peter? He’s got to have a weakness. Is his only weakness himself?”
A long silence from Peter.
“No, no, Nick! His only weakness is that if he jumps up as high as Mars, he’s got to stay there for a long time – like an hour – before he can come back down. Anyway, let’s build a den at your house.”
They run ahead and I lose the thread of the conversation.
At home they make a den out of Nick’s bunk bed with a bucket elevator for stuffed animals, they play with legos and create flying boat cars, they recruit Juni to be a cat (not a hard sell, really), they set up a restaurant with the wooden food and try to sell me over-priced pizza, they sort Juni’s polished stones, assorted pirate coins and Mardi Gras bead necklaces by color and call it a museum. They don’t notice that it has gotten dark outside.
In my book, they are far more amazing than Sensei Lee. Happy Birthday Nick! Here’s a birthday song from Bob for you!