We have three amazing children, all with their own strengths and talents. We had them in less than three years—Irish triplets, so to speak. For a short while I had all three in diapers. My bride will never be able to catch up.
Our youngest, Evan, has always been special. What a brain he has and what creative, inventive abilities. He’s a master writer and often a pain in the ass, since he prefers to do the minimum in all his endeavors, but what a gift he's been in my life.
On occasion he rises. He'll be a high school senior in the fall, but back when he was in seventh grade they do that state mandated testing thing in writing. Before the actual test date they send out specialists from the district office to do a practice test and to help with deficiencies. Well, after the proctor saw Evan’s efforts, he got frogmarched out to the hall and told, “Son, you have to tone that down…the ones grading that test are just not going to get it, you’re writing above their heads and they don’t like that…”
It started early, this intelligence of his. He’s was and is a sensitive child, filled with empathy. The way he treated his surrogate grandmother, who was devolving into senility or dementia, would bring tears to your eyes.
And then there’s the devilish wackiness…at age six, he sort of thought he was the reincarnation of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Evan constructed a booth out in front of the house, on the sidewalk by the road. This six year old, already able to read and write, then made an elaborate sign that said, “Frank Appraisals of Your Appearance–75¢.” He said later he didn’t get any takers, but one lady slowed down in her car and gave him a big smile.
Another Calvin channeling had him making a booth in our den. I walked in from the garage to see a sign with an arrow pointing me in the right direction. When I got to the booth, there he was grinning up at me…waiting for me. The sign on the booth said “Great Ideas–25¢.” Still grinning at me, I gave him his quarter, which he secreted away somewhere. “Ok, ok, what’s your great idea?” He made as if to run away, like a runner leading off from first about to steal second. “A fool and his money are soon parted!” And he took off.
But in all the ways he stands out as unique, it’s his writing abilities that really floors people.
Again in seventh grade, he had an essay assignment in his French class. He wrote a play instead, and then performed it for his class. He got a couple of his buddies to stand up as props and then he acted out the part of a drunk patron at a Paris brasserie. I got a call from the French teacher on that one—she wanted to know if i wrote the play or helped him. I assured her the only French I knew was “apres vou, mon petit chou.” The next day she got the second year French students to come in and see an encore performance.
But skewed perceptions and writing talent started pretty young actually. In fourth grade he began writing and illustrating his own comic books, just the cover and the first page on speculation—he tried to sell them and would promise a couple more pages when sold. He invented his own characters too, the main one being Stupid Superhero, who kept tripping over things and flying into buildings.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t always charming and has not always used the best judgement. One afternoon comes to mind. He convinced a fellow kindergartener to join him under a table in the classroom, and while no one else was looking, proceeded to give him the worst haircut you could imagine. Picture, if you will, an orphaned dog with scurvy mange and clumps of hair missing. Not stopping there, he then cut all the computer mouse cables hanging below the desktops. Yes, we were called to the school for a conference.
We did have, on occasion, the opportunity to stand up for his choices as well. One teacher complained that he was disrupting the class because he was wearing his shoes on the wrong feet. I calmly explained that as a five year old he long ago learned how to dress himself and I had no desire at that point to regress and choose his clothes or how he put them on. I won out and at some future point in his academic career, he did choose to wear his shoes like most everyone else. That teacher, a long-term substitute, went home early that day and didn't return.
But this is all minor in the grand scheme of things. Evan at 17 is growing into a young man of infinite possibilities. His brain, creativity, empathy, kindness, sense of humor and myriad abilities will take him far. He is a lovely man child and I am humbled by the gift of his presence in my life. For two thirds of his life he has been extraordinarily attached to me, and would worry if he did not know where i was or when i would return. It’s ok now that he has separated himself from me, it is as it has always been that a young man must make himself his own person. I love him dearly, and I’m very proud of him.
If only he wouldn't try to figure out the least amount of work to get by in his classes. He'll be fine—I seriously doubt he'll be working for the government in a gated community, but he could make his dad feel a bit better by trying a little harder.
We did get him engaged a couple of years ago—to demonstrate to him some cause and effect rewards. He co-wrote and illustrated two books; the first is published and available on Amazon, the second is due out in October. They comprise the stories of his misadventures from his younger days. His mother writes one chapter on what went wrong, along with scans of actual notes from his teachers, and Evan writes the next chapter describing his version of that same event. Needless to say, his take is usually framed in surrealism or science fiction.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. We have three beautiful lovely children and they are all worthy of praise in their own right. I’ll write of the other two at another time. But for the sake of balance, and for personal reasons, I start with Evan, one of the bright lights in my life.
The second irreverent part is found here.