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Voices carry

April 23, 2012

Scene: Harriet’s car. Harriet and AJ are driving to or from one of AJ’s many activities.

AJ: If I go far away to college, will you move with me?

Harriet: (smothering a smile) By the time you are ready to go to college, I don’t think you’ll want me to come with you. You’re going to want to be on your own. But we’ll come visit you and you’ll come home for vacations to see us.

AJ: Even if I go to Stanford?


I’m not sure if I already told the story above. It happened a few weeks ago, but it’s been sticking with me because it’s emblematic of the tormented place AJ is in at the moment, at once desperate for his own independent life and craving the feeling of reliable family that has been shaken a bit by all my travel in the last few months. He wants to go to college, he wants to see the world, but he wants to make sure we’re going to be there for him. We try to reassure him of this fact regularly.
This morning I wasn’t feeling very well, so after breakfast, I returned to bed with my laptop to start my work day. In the next room, I could hear AJ chattering to himself, as he often does. He is always acting out scenes in his head or singing little songs of his own devising. This morning he was having both sides of a discussion about an assignment they have for class. They’ve been studying political cartoons and also the American Revolution in social studies. He had to draw a cartoon about the Boston Massacre last week. And this week, he’s working on a project where he has to find three political cartoons and talk about what they mean and then draw one of his own. The discussion he was having with himself was over the nature of the cartoon he was going to draw. Should he draw a sports cartoon? Or one about the American Revolution? I didn’t hear the final revolution, only the discussion with his imaginary friend.

Downstairs, I tell Mr. Spy about what I’ve overheard, because I thought it was charming. He worries a bit about whether we’ve done AJ a disservice in making him an only child. But if truth be told, AJ comes by his tendency to talk to himself honestly. Mr. Spy tends to have long discussions with the television during sporting events. And just now, as I went down to make myself an afternoon snack, I realized I was saying out loud, “Now it’s time to poppa da korn” in the Swedish Chef’s voice:

It’s a good thing I’m home alone.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2012 8:55 pm

    Oh, poor AJ!
    But it may not be all about your travel — I think M would still not mind if we moved to Ohio.

  2. April 23, 2012 9:04 pm

    I would not mind if everyone moved to Ohio. You notice that my kid went eleven hours away, though.

  3. freshhell permalink
    April 23, 2012 9:04 pm

    If it makes you feel better, the kid in my house that talks to herself (continuously) is the second one. So, it’s not an only-child thing. It’s just built into them.

  4. April 24, 2012 4:08 am

    Also, am I the only one who’s slightly relieved you admitted that you (ad adult) also talk to yourself? I do too, well I mask it by directing the talk toward one of the nearby cats. But if I’m honest, I will admit they aren’t my audience.

  5. April 24, 2012 12:47 pm

    Bug has asked me if he can live next door to me when he’s grown up. I said no. But, I did say that five miles away might be perfect. 😉 The other one? He might blow me off for a cold climate and never come back.

  6. April 26, 2012 5:38 pm

    I didn’t know about the Swedish Chef until DJ told me he hadn’t invented that accent. I was deprived of pop culture as a child.

    I like that Stanford is the furthest away AJ can imagine right now. And that he wants you to go with him. That is going to be killer wedding toast material someday.

  7. April 28, 2012 5:59 pm

    Julia, I fear that someday AJ my be sorry about how many stories I can dig up about him. But so far, at least, he enjoys them. I was an early adopter of the Muppet Show because when Henson couldn’t sell it in the US, he sold it in England. It happened to be the first year we lived there. Our family used to pile in my parents king-sized bed (the only TV was in their room) to watch every, I think, Saturday night when it was on. We have the first season on DVD, should you need to educate yourself.

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