"Mom, Mr. Hakke called me a whippersnapper. HeÂ looked angry. What does that mean?"
I rubbed Kevin's head wondering what had happened to elicit such a comment. Mr. Hakke was usually so charming. "A whippersnapper, Kevin, is a sassy, pert person who tries to act more important than he or she is. Did something happen before Mr. Hakke called you a jackanapes?"
"He didn't call me a jack of apes, he called me a whippersnapper."
"Jack-a-napes, Kevin. It means the same thing."
"Oh. Well, I was picking at the bark on our willow treeÂ and throwing the cicada larva at Hoopster. Mr. Hakke said that would make Hoopster itch. I told him 'tough bounce' and he said, 'Kevin McCully, you are an original whippersnapper! Then he went in his garage and slammed the door. And keep rubbing my head, Mom, it itches."
"Cicada larva, huh? He probably thought 'tough bounce' was not very polite. Why'd you say that?"
"Aw, I dunno. Humza said it to his sister at school when she tried to take her hood off. Her habib got twisted and she told Humza to fix it. I liked the way it sounded. Don't you sometimes like the way a word sounds and you wanna use it?"
"Well, a brother saying it to a sister is one thing. A young boy saying it to an older gentleman is another."
"Kinda. Humza got a snake bite from Faiza. I only got a slammed door. Rub more, Mom!"
I looked down at Kevin's head. "Euwww, Kevin! Did you put those cicadas in your head?"
"Mom?" Kevin said slowly.
I pulled my hand away and peered at my fingertips. Dry, flakey dust coated each digit. I parted his short, blond hair to reveal powdery wings and small grey bodies with squirming legs.
"Ahhhhh! Kevin, what is this?"
His hand shot up to his head. Deftly he picked off one of the insects.
"Hot dog, Mom," my son yelled, "the maggot eggs that Humza and I planted in each others' hair hatched!"
"You planted in each others' hair?" I repeated.
"Yeah, it's a science experiment."
"In science class, Ms. Haugo said that maggots are used to debreed wounds. Humza had hit his head on the counter and had a huge scabby cut and we decided to see if the maggots would take care of the scab."
"But that still doesn't explain why you have...oh, for the love of...Kevin! You have maggots in your hair!"
"Yeah, I know. I was the placebo. We wanted to test the maggots in both a real cut and not a cut, you know what I mean."
"Don't tell me where you got the eggs."
"C'mon Mom, you drilled LeGuin's words into me for a reason."
We quoted together, "The creative adult is the child who has survived.â€
"Without doubt, dear son, it must be true loveÂ to beÂ picking maggots out of your child's head."
Prompts for January 5, 2011
- Use a quote from a book. Make your attribution like this one.
- Include the words: whippersnapper, tough bounce, & charming
- Someone needs to say, "Love is..." you can fill in the rest of the sentence
- tag with gwwe
- publish by January 11 for inclusion in next week's column