Viewing entries tagged


in the headlights

TYRELL At school this week everyone had to write a story.

HILLARY Oh yeah? What did you write about?

TYRELL A deer.

HILLARY A deer...doing what?

TYRELL Attacking.



the limits of human knowledge

(Tyrell is not feeling well.) 

HILLARY I think we need to cross-multiply now. If we're writing this as an equation, what does 40x equal?

TYRELL  (hands over face) No one knows.

HILLARY According to the problem, it's eight hundred.

TYRELL  (hands still over face) No one will ever know.



mistakes were made

Sometimes I talk about hip hop with Tyrell's mom. Even though he's ten, she's actually about my parents' age, and because I was a weird kid in a weird family, I only started listening to rap on my own in the past few years (with a few exceptions in high school and college). And I started by brushing up on the classics. What this means, in practice, is that I mostly only know and like older stuff, which is also what she likes. 

Which brings us to the following exchange. 

(on the metro)

HILLARY Tyrell, you don't have to stand if you don't want to.

TYRELL I'm not gonna sit down. I don't sit next to strangers. I don't trust 'em.

HILLARY You don't trust them.


HILLARY Do you also not sleep, because sleep is the cousin of death?


HILLARY What? No. Of course not.

TYRELL Sleep is the cousin of death? (turns to his mother) Why did you never tell me that?

HILLARY It's not. Really. It's a line from a song that your mom knows.

TYRELL'S MOM You've been sleeping for years, and you're still here now.

TYRELL Sleep is the cousin of death. (pause) Man, I'm never sleeping again.




more answers to important questions

(Sunday morning with Tyrell, my ten-year-old reading buddy.) 

(I will return with real content soon.) 


 HILLARY So in this chapter they use Willy and Milly, the hamsters, to try to retrieve the squid.*  (pause) If you had a hamster, what would you name it?

TYRELL  (without hesitation) Jamster.

HILLARY Jamster? Jamster the Hamster.

TYRELL And I'd give him a little hamster-size boom box.



HILLARY Let's say you had to sum up this book for your teacher, in one or two sentences. What would you say?


HILLARY No, really.

 TYRELL I'd say, "I'll tell you if you promise to give me an A+ on everything for the rest of the year and forever."


 TYRELL No, I'd give her the real answer! (pause) As soon as she agreed.


*Highly recommended. It's not perfect, but the Amazon review really doesn't do it justice.  



we, as a society, really undersell the personalities of children

HILLARY Okay, so now use "pondering" in a sentence.

TYRELL I'm thinking about pondering.

HILLARY Oh, so you're pondering pondering.

TYRELL  (gleefully) Meta! Meta meta meta meta meta!

HILLARY  "Hereby" means, like, "officially now." As of right now. So, for example, I hereby declare -

TYRELL That I am awesome.

HILLARY  ...That you are awesome.

TYRELL And I always have been.

HILLARY  (sighs) And you always have been.


TYRELL  That was an awesome sentence.



1 Comment

another useful reminder

HILLARY Do you know that word, "jubilant"? 


HILLARY It means, like, joyful. Joyful and celebratory. 

TYRELL Like the song "Celebrate"! 


(TYRELL begins singing "Celebrate good times, come on!" and clapping his hands) 

(Note: we are in a school library) 

HILLARY (makes "cut it out" motion) Buddy. You can't sing right now.

TYRELL  (patiently) I'm just trying to make it jubilant up in here.

1 Comment


talking about talking



My fourth-grade reading buddy is one of my favorite people in the world. He's a pudgy kid with a raspy drawl, a fondness for sprawling on the ground, and an attitude that one of the 826DC employees once described as "doesn't give a [redacted]." He's insanely smart and a voracious reader, but he also comes off as a totally normal fourth grader from Columbia Heights whose main interests are football and video games. The way that this manifests itself is that he'll read a rhetorical question in a book, such as "Kathy thinks you're the stupidest person she doesn't know. What do you think of that?"* and mutter, "I'll climb inside the book and beat her up. That's what I think."

I've taken to documenting some of our more quotable conversations on the Facebook, and quite honestly, they're ridiculous enough that I can see where people might think that I'm actually trying to get him to say things that are crazy. But I'm not. As you can see from the example below, I probably couldn't even imagine some of these conversations on my own.

(I put his real name on Facebook, where I have at least a modicum of control over who sees what I write, but this is the Internet, wild and free. So I'll call him Tyrell.)

Saturday, 10:45 AM

TYRELL: You know the basketball player Metta World Peace?


TYRELL: What does Metta mean?

HILLARY (inwardly): Oh God.

HILLARY (outwardly): means, like...when you're talking about the thing you're talking about. Like if you had a book and it was about books.

(Tyrell, justifiably, looks somewhat dubious.)

It's you know what a theory is? 


HILLARY: Okay. Do you...know what a hypothesis is? 

TYRELL: Yeah. 

HILLARY: Okay. So let's say you have a hypothesis. And your hypothesis is that most hypotheses that people make are about science.

TYRELL: Which is probably true. 

HILLARY: Yeah, probably. Anyway, that's meta. That's a meta-hypothesis, I guess. 

 (Tyrell's eyes light up)

TYRELL: So it's something ABOUT something! 

HILLARY: Yes. I think that's close enough. 

A week later, in our follow-up discussion, he suggested that another example would be "if the New York Jets MADE a jet." It's unclear if he was talking about a football formation or airline manufacturing (I think that the first would qualify as meta and the second wouldn't?) (who cares that's awesome). 

*five points if you can name that book