Skater Boy and Long Dark Hair sit on the floor in the kitchen area, dumping boxes of cornstarch into a stockpot of water. They are either making a ridiculous amount of gravy or doing some kind of informal scientific experiment. “We’re making a non-Newtonian fluid,” Skater Boy says when I ask. Shaggy Hair Boy shows me how I can punch the fluid hard – and it acts like a solid. Long Dark Hair takes off his shoe to stick his foot in the pot. “One of these days, we’re going to fill a whole wading pool,” Boy in Black says.
Quick and With-a-Why, sitting on the carpet near the couch, play chess and trade trivia about the show Scrubs. Shaggy Hair Boy and Philosophical Boy spread a bedsheet on the table and dump out poker chips. Beautiful Smart Wonderful Daughter and Boy in Black lounge on the couch with their laptop computers open. My daughter says she’s editing something and Boy in Black says he’s doing research, but mostly they are talking to each other. Boy in Black and Quick get into an intellectual debate about the merits of different brands of breakfast cereal. “If the word fruit is spelled with double O’s, I can’t eat it,” says Quick. Six laptop computers are strewn about the room and one of them is playing the Ghostbuster song, rather loudly.
In just a few weeks, my three oldest kids – and almost all of my extras – will be leaving for college or grad school. It’s going to be awfully quiet here.