Big Ideas

My sons have grown opinions. I shouldn’t be too surprised. It was bound to happen eventually. And just like those 10 fingers and 10 toes, anxiously viewed on an ultrasound and counted upon arrival, I am somewhat relieved but not altogether surprised. Because like the brown hair and blue eyes, this family virtue was bound to be inherited by at least one of them. How lucky am I to see it in all three?

They are not fully ripe opinions, eager to be shared outside of the confines of our family unit. It will be some time before that occurs. And like their mother before them, my sons will need to learn to temper those grand views based on the company they keep. But in our house, bring it on. Let those wild ideas fly.

Without much thought, I mention something about ratings of a certain presidential candidate and how I hope to see those numbers continue to climb. “Really, mom,” comes a response from one I did not think was listening. One who appears more interested in surreptitiously monitoring an ongoing string of text messages than in any form of dinner time conversation. “I didn’t know you were a pawn of big business.” Huh. OK. I’m not, it’s just that, well. “And how about the rampant government spending on the military? Are you ok with that, too?”

I’m not ok with that. No. Absolutely not. But. So. Um.

“I think you need to do a little more research, mom,” advice offered while texting. (How does he do that?) “You can’t just settle, you know. It might be time for a revolution.”

I move on to the next son. “How was basketball today?” I ask.

“Will we move to Canada?” he replies. “Because all of my friends will be moving there, too, if, you know, the crazy guy is our president.”

I really hope not, I say. I like where we live. “Yeah, mom, but don’t you think that we should? I mean we can’t stay here, can we? It wouldn’t be right.”

No, I guess not. Let’s not worry about it yet, though. “OK, but we should at least think about it.” he replies.

Warily, I look over at the youngest. The hockey player. The inventor. The free spirit. The child. “Good work on math today,” I say.

“Yeah,” he says, “I’m definitely going to Canada.”

When the boys were little and I’d drag them around here and there with that tired and overwhelmed look on my face, an occasional well-meaning passerby would give me a nugget of advice.

“Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.”

The inference was I should enjoy my small guys, because it would get nothing but more difficult the older they became. And there is some truth to that. The worries I have now are potentially life-changing. Peer pressure. Fast cars. Alcohol. Drugs. Loose women. Republicans.

The boys make far more decisions on their own. They are out in the world with so many influences and such diverse messages bombarding them. And while before they revolved around me, these days, I spend more time revolving around them.

I loved those baby days. I loved their soft skin and those tiny onesies. I loved the gibberish and how frustrated they’d become when I couldn’t understand them. I loved early bedtimes and watching them sleep with those little bums up in the air. I loved pulling them around in a wagon and teaching them how to ride bikes. It was a very sweet time. The conversations were simpler. Which Pokemon was most powerful. Which dinosaurs were most ferocious. Whether the Red Sox could win it all this year. (OK, we’re still having that conversation). We talked about firemen and Jedis and Dora the Explorer. It was nice. Uncomplicated.

It is not so straight forward now. There are big questions. Big decisions. Big consequences to seemingly small mistakes. But big problems? No. Not big problems. Big opportunities, I think. Also, there is discussion. Debate. Intellectual repartee. I love that. Even when they aren’t on my side, I like it still. Our world, especially today’s fragile and unsettled world, needs a new generation of big thinkers. With the last name of Darwin, I guess it was inevitable. And as pleased as I was to see those 10 fingers and 10 toes, I welcome the arrival of their opinions with both pride and joy.

And if necessary, Canada will be lucky to have them.

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