Do you ever wonder what life will be like in 100 years? Each week, my six-year-old boy is supposed to bring his completed homework assignment to school on Friday. The packet rides home in his backpack Monday or Tuesday, giving us plenty of time to review 14 spelling words, line up paper squares into columns of things that start and end with “s” and “h” and “sh,” and write down which books we read. The latter, at least, has been easier lately, as one of the books is always about sharks.
I no longer keep track of the titles; All About Sharks or Mako Sharks or Everything You Need to Know about Great Whites are interchangeable enough to me, and so I simply fill one of the boxes with “Shark Book,” and call that good enough.
Because sometimes, especially when it comes to keeping track of a six-year-old boy’s homework and love of sharks, good enough is good enough.
The homework though. The future.
Each Thursday, I say “Next week, we’re going to do half of this on Tuesday,” and still, each Thursday finds me scrambling to find the packet, telling him that it has to get done, him producing a few tears. Eventually, we get through it. Sometimes, like tonight, it even ends up being fun, as we talk about the similarities of the words “fish” and “dish” and “mash” and wonder what, exactly, “nash” is.
Each week, I look to the future “next week, we’ll do a better job of this. We’ll be more prepared. Someday, he won’t even want me to help him, or I won’t know how to,” I think.
Oh to the tomorrows, to being better, more prepared and to the being better today, and saying f*ck it, and to living in the now, finding a way to make a six-year-old boy decide that learning to spell can be fun by acting out “mash” and “nash” and “fish” and “dish.”
The house is growing quiet, and, in thinking of homework and life, I think about all of the tomorrows. He lost his second tooth today, at school. The first, I helped him to pull, and we put it beneath his pillow in an envelope for the Tooth Fairy. The first thing he did the next morning was to see if she’d remembered to come.
Today, he lost his second one at school, and brought it to me in a tiny plastic treasure chest, proud, and too independent. When I mentioned the Tooth Fairy, he said “She won’t come tonight. My friend at school said she sleeps late on Fridays.”
In part, angry, because for this, his second tooth, I’ll remember. In part, amused, because probably, a parent forgot one Friday, and her child is passing on this nugget of wisdom to his classmates. In part, annoyed, because often these days, my little boy believes classmates over me, even when I say “Oh she’ll come, Buddy. I know it! It’s your second tooth, after-all, and really special.”
“She won’t,” he replied. Joey said so at school.
Sigh. To peers and the excitement over the Tooth Fairy now and to the future.
I rallied him up enough to think she may come and he drew this for her, on the envelope holding his tooth:
I waver between excitement and trepidation for the future. I wonder What Will Life Be Like in 100 Years.
I imagine families in 100 years from now, and wonder whether they still procrastinate homework, or whether by then, each kid will plug-in and download the week’s assignments, learning them in his sleep.
I imagine families 100 years ago, and know that many didn’t have homework, or the luxury of school, and marvel that 100 years ago feels so impossible but also so real. After all, my grandparents were alive 100 years ago. I read something recently – an article my brother sent to us all on New Year’s Day – that said the average man’s life expectancy in 1915 was 47 years old.
Back then, children were more likely to die before the age of five, and women gave birth at home, and sometimes died from it. A woman like me, who gave birth to her first and only at the age of barely-hanging-onto-40 certainly would have been put to pasture, or to work taking care of other people’s children.
What will it be like in another 100 years? Will women be able to birth babies into their 60’s? Will humans live to be 160 or more? Will there be a cure for cancer and for AIDS and for heartbreak?
Will we freeze ourselves and will we all be super-humans with the metabolism of a teenaged athlete?
I asked my alien friends, who were kind enough to come for a visit again during a short nap today. I’d stocked up on Doritos and wine, and put a sign in my yard inviting them.
I asked them about the future. Simple questions, like whether I’d live until the year 2059 and beyond as I so hope to. And you know, other simple things such as whether my little boy will be okay without me.
They were quiet, and I got worried. Plus, I think crazy neighbor lady may have been watching at this point.
“Hey guys!” I shouted (but quietly, in case crazy neighbor lady was watching). “Talk to me! Is everything going to be okay? Will I live to be 100?”
You see, I had them with beer and Doritos, and I wanted answers. Sadly, I don’t think they had them either.
My alien friends don’t know what the future holds for us either, or how long we’ll live, or whether we’ll battle illness or even whether we’ll have Doritos in the house tomorrow, after their visit.
For today, dreaming and hoping will have to be enough. However, who knows what the future holds. Perhaps, tomorrow, we’ll know a bit more than we do today. In the meantime? I think I’m going to try and do homework and life better next week than this.
Oh, and today, I’ll remember that the Tooth Fairy needs to visit soon.
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