As M gets closer to 12 years old (he just had his half-year “birthday”), we are all entering into uncharted territory. Some days it’s almost as if we’ve passed through the time/space continuum and entered into a whole new galaxy. There’s still some discussion as to whether or not it’s a black hole or a distinct new solar system. But we’re all in agreement that it’s a whole new world and none of us has a map.
As often happens, we came across this new system quite by accident. M was the first to notice the presence of a strange planet called “Hygiene.” It’s very popular with parents, but apparently the planet’s environment is quite hostile to 11-year old boys. I maintain that the planet is benign and can have a long-term positive effect on its occupants – at the very least, they smell nice and have clean hair. However, M is convinced that the planet houses destructive forces. He prefers to visit as infrequently as possible.
I discovered the next two planets – Polite and Respectful one morning as M was getting ready for school. They are quite close to each other and share the same strange customs – for example, children do what their parents ask them (the first time!), are helpful around the house and enjoy spending time with their families. Talk about out of this world. The populations of Polite and Respectful fluctuates quite rapidly, often during the same day. M is a pretty regular visitor to both planets, but he has been known to make a quick and unscheduled visit to nearby Rude. It’s my understanding that the atmosphere around planet Rude is highly unstable and re-entering the atmosphere around the other planets can be a bumpy ride, often involving slamming doors and stamping feet.
M’s dad (or DH, as he would like to be referred to from now on) made the most recent discovery. This planet, Healthy Eating, is another parental favourite, but M prefers to keep his visits short. Even though he visits Healthy Eating 3x a day, he takes great pains to avoid the Fruit and Vegetable regions. He`d happily hang around Pizzaville, but there`s always some adult trying to sneak a piece of broccoli or a carrot onto his plate. According to DH, what makes Healthy Eating so fascinating is that it hides a smaller planet. Electronics. Apparently, Electronics, can only be reached by passing through the force field of Healthy Eating. This is probably M`s favourite planet and in an ideal world (e.g., no parents) would spend all his time there. But the planet’s atmosphere, while particularly alluring to boys, is actually very dangerous, except in short doses. Too much time on planet Electronics and their central nervous systems become over-whelmed and they turn into demons. Turning them back into children is very messy and unpleasant. In our experience, visits to Electronics must be closely monitored – and sometimes extraction is required. Full-body armor is recommended.
I expect we`ll continue to discover strange and far-off planets over the next few months and years. As time goes by, M`s going to start making more trips on his own and he`ll be gone for longer each time. Scary and exciting at the same time.