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Three anecdotes of The Childe, from yesterday

In the Natural History Museum we made a pitstop at the rest room for my sake. Someone was using an air blower to dry their hands as we entered. The Childe hates these. The sound is overwhelming for him.

He clamped his hands over his ears and said, “Daddy, don’t use that!” I replied that I would not if I had paper towels to dry my hands, reinforcing that I also had to wash my hands after using the bathroom, just as he does.

Standing at the urinal he disappeared from my peripheral vision and my general sense of immediacy. “Childe, where are you!?”

“Getting paper towels! Here, I got you some!”

I finish. Zip up. Turn around—and he is right there, proffering a long tail of toilet paper he had ripped out of the stall down the way. There are no paper towels.

I use the toilet paper, daintily, after the lightest touch of water at the sink. 

Leaving the Natural History Museum and walking on the Mall, enjoying a breezy 70 degrees and a warm sun in that so-called “extra” hour thanks to the recent Daylight Saving Time change. The Childe was on my shoulders. Soon games of “Steal Dad’s Hat” and “Daddy Robot Driver” were to break out.

Before that, there was a moment of introspection for us both as we surveyed the lengthening shadows from the Castle in front of over to the berm of the hill where the Washington Monument is launched.

The Childe said, “Daddy, you look like a statue.” He was speaking of the shadow we cast. And I can’t really put more into it or explain it more, but I found something touching in the implication for the Childe made by the shadow of his father being something as set in stone as a statue.

Driving home from the Mall, we passed by a church. Well, we pass many, but this one is bright white with more of a dome—slightly more peculiar in its shape than the other dozen churches of brick, rectangles with steeples.

The Childe asked “What is that building, daddy?”

We haven’t had the “god” or religion conversation yet, despite my upbringing and my mother’s attempt to infuse hints of Christ into my son’s life.

I said “It’s a church,” and hoping not to have to explain it more.

The most memorable thing the concept of God ever managed to do for me as a child was create a massive terror of my almost certain doom that I’m still trying to shake off.

The Childe, without more of an explanation, attempted to fill in the blanks. “Oh, so you mean, is it is a place where people who do not have a home have to go to?” I know I and his mother have explained to him that some of the people around us are unhoused. This breaks my heart - unhoused people, especially children — and that my kid is grappling with that being a thing and what happens to them.

“No, that’s not it. There are groups of people who believe in certain stories and some of them get together in buildings that like that.” (The group of people I was apart of did not have a building like that.)

The Childe thought for a moment, and said, “Oh, do you mean like the Polar Express?”

The kid believes in Santa still, so that’d be an appropriate analogy too, but he picked-up on my skepticism of other peoples beliefs so he plugged in a story he both knows and knows is make believe (but represents something “real.") Exactly, Childe. Like the Polar Express.