My boys are both running cross-country for their school team. Since they are only fourteen months apart in age, they landed on the same team this year—the seventh and eighth grade team. Our school district is insanely large. Each of their classes has over one thousand children. It’s a wild amount of organized chaos. The cross-country team this year has about sixty boys on it. More organized chaos.
Since the team practices immediately after the school day, it works out conveniently for me to pick up them up on my way home from work. A problem arises when the weather is hot. No, it’s not a problem with how well they did in the heat during practice. No, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest as I pull up to greet them in my perfectly air-conditioned vehicle. What really troubles me is when two really stinky children get into your car and it’s too hot outside to roll down the windows. I cling to the possibility that I can somehow fix the situation. I roll down all the windows except for my own window hoping that my magical pocket of cold air will hold its position surrounding me with all of its goodness. It doesn’t work that way. The evil boy stench infiltrates my area and I am forced to open the last window and let the heat bake me. I drive the rest of the way home with my nose hanging out the window like a dog.
My boy’s summary of today’s cross country practice is the epic story of the dead fish. Apparently during their run most of the boys got to lay their eyes upon a big dead fish lying next to the path that they were traveling. The description coming from my boys was vivid and extremely descriptive. “It was half eaten and had a ton of maggots crawling in and out of it.” I’m really glad to be on the receiving end of this news worthy story (so much so that I thought you too should enjoy it too). They continued with the same excitement that I wished they would have for math and science. “There was bird crap all around it. And its head was barely attached. I saw it first and told everyone to come see it.”
Then my other son objected. “No, I was there first.”
“No, you were behind me.”
“No I wasn’t. I saw you coming after I was already looking at the dead fish!”
Hey, hold everything. Stop, stop, stop. Are my boys really participating in the I-saw-the-dead-fish-first argument? Who wins at this debate like this? What positive outcome results in proving your point? I put a stop to the argument by pointing out how crazy dumb it sounded. There is no value in being the one who saw a dead fish first. None. But the voices in my head could hear what could have been the next couple of lines.
“There is no way you saw the dead fish first. I have always been best at spotting dead animals from a distance. I’ve been doing it for almost seven years now.”
“No way! I spotted my first dead animal at the age of four years old. Also, Deer Hunter magazine voted me ‘best dead animal spotter of the year’ for the last four consecutive years! In a row!”
“But I want to be the first dead fish spotter this time! You were the dead fish spotter last time!”
You have to pick your battles in life. There are no winners with this one. I think it was a lose-lose situation. Actually, it was a lose-lose-lose situation if you include the dead fish too.