On hills, and the dying thereupon


I watched The Force Awakens with my son for the first time a few weeks ago.  Since then we’ve watched it once or twice more and a curious pattern has arisen: every time, and I mean every God Damned time, Kylo Ren appears on screen, the boy asks who he is.

“Kylo Ren,” I say.

“Oh,” he says, then he waits until his next scene and asks again.  If he wasn’t four I’d be certain he was trolling me.  This has, lately, extended to toys as well; we were in Target the other day and he picked up a Ren figure and asked me who it was.

I generally walk into school with him at Hogwarts and escort him to his classroom; it’s not entirely necessary but he enjoys it and there’s no good reason not to do it.  After he drops off his stuff at his cubby there’s a plastic box he’s supposed to put his lunch and snack into and take with him to the classroom.  The kids have all decorated theirs with stickers, and I think the teachers use cubby-stickers for minor rewards.  He always shows me when he has a new sticker.  And the other day there was a Kylo Ren sticker on his mailbox.

“Look!” he says.  “It’s Skylo Ren!”

Kylo Ren,” I say.

“No,” he says.  “That’s Skylo Ren.”

I swear, you could hear my teeth grinding from the moon for a brief moment.

“It’s Kylo,” I said.  “It’s been Kylo every single time you’ve asked for weeks.  Which one of us can read, again?”

“Mrs. McGonagall says it’s Skylo,” he says, as if that settles the issue.  I think Mrs. McGonagall is the gym teacher, maybe?

“Mrs. McGonagall is wrong,” I say.  “His name is Kylo Ren.  K-Y-L-O.”

“Skylo,” he says.  He’s getting loud and insistent.  I drop it, until the next time I am with him in a store and see a Kylo Ren toy, at which point I force him to spell the name to me and, after doing so, he asks who the toy is.

I give up.

They have been studying birds in class, for what seems like weeks, and the boy has acquired a legitimately impressive store of facts about ornithology.  We are putting him to bed, and I walk into his bedroom as my wife is giving him a hug and he, in his way, is explaining to her that cowbirds put their eggs in the nests of other birds because they are lazy.

My wife is a biologist. I actually see her eyes twitch.

“Who told you that?” she says.

“Mrs. Dumbledore,” he says.  Mrs. Dumbledore is actually his teacher.

“That’s not quite true,” she says.  “It’s actually an evolutionary strategy–”

He interrupts.  “Lazy!”

There is another twitch.

I watch my wife be dragged unwillingly down a road where she actually uses the phrase brood parasitism in a conversation with a four-year-old.  There is a large smile on my face, and eventually the boy wins again.  Okay.  Fine.  Skylo Ren.  Lazy cowbirds.

We give up.

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