I’m sorry I’ve been out of touch. Where have I been the last 10 days? There was Thanksgiving, other writing projects and general Mayor of Cooperstown stuff. Last night at dinner, I realized I hadn’t posted in a long time. Truth is, I forgot.
Nate never forgets and he thinks a lot about when he himself was out of touch. He constantly revisits his youth, when communication was impossible, and tells us how he felt about things or what he thought he heard when we spoke (which wasn’t what we actually said).
Nate was obsessed with The Magic School Bus series when he was around 10. The videos, the TV show, the books, the CD-ROMs, everything. Two days ago he was at the kitchen table with three different Scholastic Skills Books – The Magic School Bus Science Explorations, A, B and C. There he was, affixing white labels over his old answers and putting in new, correct ones. All the books now meet Nate’s approval.
There are lots of examples, but here are a few. Nate had written “The Moon” in a chart for the inner planets. He crossed that out, wrote next to it “Not a planet!” and drew an arrow to the previously wrong answer. For what a bear eats, he had once written “wood.” Now he has this: “NOTE: Wood is not a plant.”
I can’t tell you many more; they’re all covered up. I can tell you that he has answers that are factual and hysterical. For what do sharks eat, his original answer was “anchovies.” To this he added, “or people in panic.” Another question: Can you see the ants doing any other jobs? To the original “Yes” he added, “like the ones preparing to become ‘gi-ants’!” Somehow I got in the picture. In a section about getting sick, he wrote, “I get sick of my father’s aggregative quotes.” And, in a diagram of the human body, next to the part marked “anus” Nate added “or bomb dropper.”
I’ve tried to get from Nate how he feels about looking back. “What do you think of that kid?” I ask, giving him choices like sad, embarrassed, funny, and frustrating. He never gives me a good answer. The mere fact that he is trying to make sense of his past is good enough for me, but I always worry that pounding out the Nate-ness of him could go too far. There is a point where correcting him too much, or in this case self-correcting, changes the very nature of who he is. It’s just a feeling, nothing scientific.