The Road Ahead

On Friday after school, W had an orthodontist appointment. When it was over, he got in the car and put his feet on the dashboard. The soles of his shoes. “Get your feet off there! This is a brand new car.”

“It’s not brand new,” he informed me as he took his feet away. Two dusty shoe prints adorned the black surface above the glove compartment. He glanced at me sheepishly as he used his blue jeaned knee to awkwardly wipe at the prints. “It’s like… four months old.”

“And in my life with cars, that’s brand new. The van is ten years old. I plan to keep this one twenty… or maybe fifteen.”

“So four months is two percent of its life,” he informed me. He had me there; you can’t really say that a toddler is a brand new baby. “Anyway,” he continued. “By then, there should be some sort of legislation banning gasoline powered cars.”

“They can’t do that,” I stated emphatically. “That would be way too expensive! Everyone would have to trade in their cars, and you can’t expect everyone to buy an electric car.”

He pondered that for a minute. “Well, they should ban the production of gasoline powered cars. That would be a step in the right direction. Electricity is so much more efficient. If this were an electric car, you’d be able to accelerate much faster!” His eyes brightened at the thought.

I sighed. My car accelerates just fine, thank you very much. And the limited acceleration will keep his acceleration under marginal control once he starts driving… in another year and less-than-a-half. “I’m good,” I informed him. “I like this car.”

“I’m just saying that electricity is much better. It’s more efficient for everything.”

“Except for heat,” I told him. “Our house used to have electric heat. It was not so efficient and very expensive.”

“Electricity is good for heat,” he stated. “It’s better for most things.”

“Okay,” I conceded, eager to steer the conversation in another direction. My STEM skills are passable, but they are no match for W’s STEM skills, and if we continued this conversation, he would launch into a technical discourse that would rise above my comprehension in five seconds.

“You know Mom, I figured out what the unused switches in our circuit box are for.” They were used for the electric heat.” The words caught my gut and sent my heart into overdrive. I glanced at him then back to the road.

“Huh. How’d you figure that out?” I wondered aloud as I tried to keep my racing thoughts to myself. I shuddered at the thought of him poking through the large bundle of wires that ran from the circuit box up into the suspended ceiling, easily accessed if you just move a ceiling tile or two. I kept my right eye on him while my left eye did the driving. I saw him smirk. And squirm. He looked down then out at the road in front of us. With each of my children, the path I travel has a unique set of bumps.

“I just figured it out,” he said, offering nothing further. And somehow, I think that’s all I’ll ever know.

I sighed as I turned both eyes back to the road. The Long. Road. Ahead.

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