Quietly amazing

Caleb is now ten. He’s a “ten-ager,” as he likes to say.

The boys come to work with me on their birthdays. I don’t know what they’ll do once I’m a world-famous author who writes full-time for a living. Perhaps sit in a corner in my little barn office and stare at the back of my head while I type. Or maybe we can pitch around ideas together. They’re pretty good at imagining things, and their vocabulary is impressive. They all know what “extrude” means, for example. This is because their father knows how to turn a Freddy’s Frozen Custard visit into an educational experience.

“Boys, see that custard machine over there? It’s e-x-t-r-u-d-i-n-g the custard.”

“W-o-o-o-w,” they say in unison. Or they used to. Now they all clamor to be the first to announce that the custard machine is extruding custard, or that it’s not currently extruding and ought to get busy with said extrusion, all to the bafflement of the other patrons, many of whom must think that we are either hopelessly nerdy, or terrible parents who let their children say words that sound vaguely obscene.

Yesterday instead of my office, Caleb came with me to Starbucks. We got our manly hot chocolates and sat across from one another at a table, he studiously doing his history and English work, me reveling in the fact that I get more done at Starbucks with hot chocolate than I do in my office with a crappy cup of coffee. “Dad,” he asked, “are we Christians, or Jews?”

There’s a poser you don’t often hear. That led to a long discussion that covered theology, Biblical history, and the Holocaust, all of it to the edification and/or horror of the guy sitting nearby pretending not to listen to our conversation. I’m pretty sure Caleb understands we’re Christians now, and I have some hope that one day he will be able to explain what that means. Unlike a goodly portion of other people going by that label.

Last night, as we drove home from one of those mongolian bring your food to us in a bowl and we’ll cook it in front of you on a 10,000-degrees burner restaurants, Caleb rested his head against the window. “Look at all those stars,” he said. “It’s really quite amazing.”

So are you, my boy hurtling toward manhood.


  1. Greataunt Nisey

    Wonderful post for a wonderful young Caleb. I hope your birthday was a day full of blessings! You are an awesome young man and I love you.

  2. Hutz

    A belated happy birthday to Caleb, who is undoubtedly becoming a fine young man, and one of the ‘good guys’.

    The first post of yours I ever read was about Eli shooting a monster on the way to violin practice and it made me think “You know what? This Woodlief fellow is raising ‘good guys’. The world needs more good guys. I should see if I can learn something from him about raising boys.”

    Well done, and thanks for sharing some of your experiences with us.

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