most days anthony and i make the one mile walk to his school. after dropping him off, i then turn and walk another mile to my office. (fold in my morning workout, this is what gives me 9,000 steps when i sit down at my desk at 9am). depending on how early anthony and i leave the house, we have a variety of choices as to the route we take to school. our most direct route is a straight shot out of our front door. and i don't mean that figuratively. if you walked blindfolded out my front door and traveled perfectly straight for 1 mile you would run into anthony's elementary. if it weren't for the hills between here and there, you might be able to see it from our front porch.
but anthony is a bit of an explorer so i've shown him a couple different ways we can get to school. the obvious examples are just taking one street up or one street down. the less obvious are routes that wend further the to north or south of our house. we are fortunate to have multiple interesting landmarks around us. a quarter mile to the south we have a top-tier university. a quarter mile to the north we have a century-old business district. so on days where we're on the ball and have an extra twenty minutes or so, we will meander through a beautiful college campus or walk between a pair of pedestaled stone lions that announce the entrance to our community. one of our routes even takes us through a subway station that sits beneath a busy-ish street intersection. there, i just like going down on one of the corners and wending our way through the underground structure and coming up on another corner. the first time we did this, it blew my second grader's mind as he didn't realize that all those entrances even existed.
easily the greatest facet of our walks are the conversations. i'm sad i haven't catalogued (or recorded even) them all as they are remarkable (admittedly, they are remarkable to me, the father, but i promise you would have enjoyed some of them). for instance here's one from the top of the deck, meaning that happened on our last walk. this conversation somehow began organically, i don't remember the lead-in, just the meat. i told anthony of this theory that for a lot of musical bands a lot of people feel their first album is there best album. and they might go on to make ten albums but a lot of times it is their first one that was their best. i asked anthony why he thought that could be because people should get better over time theoretically. anthony thought on this, for a far shorter time than i would have needed to think on this, and said, that it was because people in their twenties could think better than people, "say, your age dad" because your brain's cells are dying (nothing like a little early morning pep-talk to get the day off with a start). he added that because of this decay, you couldn't make things so good.
i complimented his theory and was struck, as i often am, at how much he already understands about this world around us as i can promise you that sort of answer would have been nowhere on my radar when i was in third grade (to know that the divide between mental development and decay begins in the twenties -- where the hell does he learn this). i challenged his theory asking him where experience comes from. to this he said that is called wisdom and that it is different than smarts (where the hell did this kid come from???). so we ruled out that that wasn't entirely it. i told him that the standing theory pointed to time and how a band's first album was often developed over multiple years and was allowed to be nurtured over time and that subsequent, post-fame, albums never got that sort of breathing room. towards the end of one of these anthony will say "hmmm." which i take to be the noise his mind makes as he adds this new bit of information to his memory banks (and to be later used against me in some future debate).
so that is a sample conversation. but when we're not having conversations like that we might be having ones that look more like this. on that same walk, just moments before the above conversation took place, anthony kept reaching down and fiddling with his pants. it was clear that his underwear got shifted in some uncomfortable way and was bothering him. i asked him if he needed help multiple times. he said he got it but then a minute or two later he'd be pushing his pants this way or that. this was a day we walked through the metro tunnels. before taking the final steps back up to the street, we were in a secluded spot and i said he should drop his pants and fix his underwear. anthony protested saying we were in public. i showed him that no one could see us. he pointed at the stairs. i said i would stand look-out and let him know if anyone was coming. after a pause of contemplation he dropped his pants and started working to straighten things out. i watched him trying to see where the hangup was. with his pants at his knees and him getting his boxer-briefs better arranged. out of nowhere a woman rounded the corner from the steps. i exclaimed and anthony and i both looked at her startled. i jumped in front of anthony shielding him from her and she, obviously a parent herself, held her hand over her eyes blocking the view and smilingly repeating the phrase "I can't see anything" as she passed. after anthony scrambled to get back in order he chastised me essentially asking how that could have happened.
dad! why didn't you tell me someone was coming?
i didn't hear her. i thought i would have heard her. she was walking so quietly. she just kinda appeared.
that's why it's called a LOOK-out dad. not a HEAR-out.
yeah. like you would have had an answer to that.