It was a normal drive home from town for my oldest son James and me, but this time the conversation turned serious.
It was one of those conversations that you have alone with the radio turned all the way down.
James had just given me a few of his thoughts on careers, marriage and life. And for an eleven-year-old kid, you can say he has his priorities in order.
“How come we always have birthday parties at home,” he asked, beginning his conversation. “How come we can’t rent places out like High Heaven or Pump it Up in Jackson?”
Feeling he needed complete honesty, I told him those places were expensive to rent and that we just didn’t have that kind of money.
“Do newspaper people not make a lot of money,” he asked.
“Well, sometimes you can,” I replied. “But Daddy and I do it because we like what we do for a living and not just for the money.”
With a perplexed look on his face, James looked at me like I was off my rocker.
“I’m not going in the newspaper business then,” he said. “I am going to join the Army so I can fight the bad guys. I want to do something important. Or maybe try to be a football player one day after I get out of the Army.”
But his next line brought me out of the clouds.
“I’m not gonna get married either,” he said. “Once you get married, your wife starts telling you what to do. And then you have to give all your money to them.”
I immediately broke out into laughter.
“I hate to tell you, but there is going to come a day when you will start paying attention to girls,” I said.
“No, I won’t,” James said, scrunching up his nose. “I don’t have time for all that.”
“I’ll give you a year at most,” Jason said. “You’ll begin to notice girls.”
James went onto to explain that he had women figured out. He said they always want something. They whine a lot. And they don’t let you do cool stuff...according to James.
“You are kind of like that,” James continued.
I let that comment slide, but maybe James does have it figured out.
Our ride home that afternoon ended with me scratching my head and wiping the tears of laughter off my face. The things your kids say can really leave you amused and puzzled.
At least they’re honest. They have no filters. But they really lay it out on the table sometimes like true professionals.
Watching my son make his way up our porch made me smile. With his book bag dragging, socks sagging around his ankles and hair sticking up from an afternoon of recess...there is the next American Dream at its best.
There is a young boy who would fight for his country or possibly throw a football on national television one day. But still hasn’t got girls figured out.
And as our daughter Elsie broke down in tears because nobody would watch her dance for the ninth time...I started wondering if maybe James had a point.