|Jinny’s column is written this week by her daughter, Adele Anderson.
My 10-year-old son, Chuck, has standing orders to call me at work the minute he gets home from school everyday. He is remarkably faithful to this particular edict of mine, and rarely misses his call time, even by minutes, unless there was some school bus delay.
Chuck refers to this duty as, “The Call”. If I happen to be absent from my desk when he calls and he has to leave a voice mail message he usually says, “Hi Mom, this is Chuck. I’m making ‘The Call’. Love you. Bye.”
Sometimes, he has something he wants to tell me, which usually involves a very long voice mail message. The other day, he wanted to share his dissatisfaction with our system of measuring temperature. “Mom,” he said, “I have to tell you, I am really disgusted with the fact that we use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius. It makes far more sense to use zero as the temperature at which water freezes rather than using 32 degrees, which makes no sense whatsoever. I think that we need to do something about this. I love you. Bye.”
I called him back. “Chuck,” I said. “While I’m sympathetic regarding your frustration with the whole Fahrenheit/Celsius thing, and I do agree with your views on the subject, I’m doubtful as to what I can do to fix it.”
“We should start a campaign,” he stated.
“A campaign?” I queried.
“You know. Signs, protests, letters…the whole deal. We are the only country in the world that uses Fahrenheit. It’s stupid.”
“We are also the only country that does not use the metric system” I pointed out.
If possible, he became even more indignant. “That’s even more stupid. We’ll make that part of the campaign.”
“Okey dokey.” I agreed. “If you think it will work, I’m behind you 100%.” I am nothing if not a supportive mother.
Chuck wasn’t finished. “Next election, I want you to vote for a candidate who wants to change to Celsius and the Metric System.”
I was OK with that. I’ve heard candidates pushing plenty of things that made far less sense in my time.
Chuck gets indignant about strange things and can argue his point like a six hundred dollar an hour litigation attorney. We have spent countless hours discussing things like Celsius vs Fahrenheit and whether or not the English language has evolved to the point where it is no longer taboo to end sentences in prepositions. If he feels that he has lost an argument like these, he invariably brings the subject up later to he can argue it some more.
He hates the physical act of writing, probably because he is left-handed, and despises having to learn and practice cursive handwriting when it is obviously designed to be written by people who are right handed. He sees this as a gross injustice. One day he was somewhat irate because his teacher had marked him down for not doing an upper case “W” correctly.
“It is completely unfair that I have to do a ‘W’ that way.” He claimed. “You don’t do a ‘W’ that way.”
“What do you mean?” I asked warily.
He sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. “I’ve seen your ‘W’, Mom. It looks nothing like the ‘W’ in the cursive book.”
“You’re right, it doesn’t,” I agreed. “Mine looks better.”
“I agree.” He persisted. “But it doesn’t look like the one in the book. That makes it pretty, but wrong.”
I was beginning to feel a little defensive. “Not necessarily. There is a certain amount of poetic license allowed in handwriting. It’s a question of developing a style.”
“Not when you’re in 4th grade.” He grumbled.
“But I had to do it just like that when I was in 4th grade too.” I pointed out.
“Which turned out to be a complete waste of time since you never did a ‘W’ like that again.” Sometimes Chuck’s tendency to Socratic logic kind of scares me.
This is usually the point at which Chuck gives me what I call, “The Look”. It is a cross between innocent, victorious, and smug that usually makes me want to ground him until he is at least 35. “The Look” was there.
“All I’m saying is that if handwriting is about style, and people develop their own, then why am I not allowed to develop my own style in 4th grade? Is there some kind of age limit on handwriting style development like driving and voting? I mean, I may only be 10 but I know exactly who I want as President.”
“Who would that be?” I inquired.
Chuck looked up from the hated cursive homework and turned the full force of “The Look” upon me.
“Obviously, the guy who wants to change to Celsius and the Metric System.”
Oh. Obviously. Stupid me. I couldn’t help wondering what kind of conversation we were going to end up having when he learns about Kelvin and absolute zero. All I know is, I’m not telling him.