We're nearing the end of the semester. Boy in Black has taken over one end of the couch; the little table in front of him holds textbooks, his cellphone, a cup of cocoa, and his laptop. He’s working on a physics problem. With-a-Why, on the other end of the couch, has a sketch pad in his lap and a laptop in front of him. Shaggy Hair Boy is in the comfy chair, and he’s writing a paper on his laptop. I’m arranging student portfolios into piles, a move that makes me look organized but really just puts off actually grading them. The kitchen counter is littered with empty cups, plates, and bowls.
It’s mostly quiet in the room, except that all of us have surges of playing the piano when we need a break, and short bits of conversations that we never finish.
With-a-Why looks up from his sketch pad, “Are you going out to the store? I need some m&m’s for school.”
“You need candy?” I ask.
“It has to be m&m’s. I need 100 of them,”
“What for?” I ask, but he is no longer listening. He’s concentrating on the sketchpad.
Boy in Black looks up from his computer: “He must be learning about radioactive decay.”
I look at him. “What?”
“I mean, it’s obvious,” he looks back down at his computer, mumbling something the concept of the half-life and how you can demonstrate this with m&m’s but already his mind has gone back to the physics problem.
“Does this look like an egg?” With-a-Why asks, holding up his sketch pad.
“Not really. Shouldn’t it be more oval?”
Shaggy Hair Boy goes into the kitchen area to get a drink, then sits down to play the piano. With-a-Why is singing to himself as he sketches. "Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo choo?" Boy in Black has opened a book called Statistical Mechanics; he’s looking at the pages so intensely that I suspect he’s memorizing it.
My daughter calls from Bison City to say she’s done with all her coursework. Her semester ended a week before ours. All she needs to do now is run a study and write a master’s thesis. She’ll come next weekend for Boy in Black’s college graduation.
And then summer will begin.