Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mysterious text messages and Medieval creations

It's 11:15 PM and a new text notification pops up on my screen. It says:

Ben H is talking to you. Ben H should absolutely not be talking to me at 11:15 PM so of course I check my phone. His text message simply says, "Keep going."

So I walk down the hall to Benjamin's room. "What are you doing, buddy?" I ask.

"Nothing," he says, doing a terrible job of hiding his phone...which, for the record, isn't technically a phone; it's an old cast-off phone that he uses as an iPod—he likes to do Duolingo on it, and enjoys listening to a pod cast before bed and then to music while he falls asleep, oh, and he can text a limited number of people on it as well. And which, for the record, is not supposed to be plugged in next to his bed but across the room from his bed.

"I'm going to have to take your phone," I tell him and he reluctantly hands it over. "You really need to go to sleep," I remind him but I still am just baffled by his message so I start asking him questions. "But what does it mean—keep going?"

"I don't know," he said.

"Who did you think you were texting?" I asked. "Because clearly you didn't think you were texting me."

"I thought I was texting Rachel and Miriam and you."

"That's exactly who you texted. But why 'Keep going'?"

"I don't know!"

"Then why send it? And why send it in the middle of the night when you know you shouldn't be on your phone?"

"I just...I didn't realize that texts sent so quickly! I thought it would be a nice message for you to wake up to in the morning. I didn't think it would go to your phone right away. I thought it would take some time!"

So now I have his phone sitting on my desk and I'm completely unsure of how long I should hold onto it for. How long do you punish someone who was trying to be kind (even if their kindness bubbled out of them at 11:15 PM (hours after they were supposed to be in bed and asleep, for the record))? Do you punish someone who was only trying to be kind? I mean, probably at least a little, right? Because he should not have been on his phone. But, like, if he had scrounged around in his room for a pencil and paper and had written a note and stuffed it under my door in the middle of the night that would be entirely endearing and not at all naughty, right? So why does technology make his actions feel more subversive when technology is a thing that can be wielded for greatness?

In other news, the children's medieval Lego world is coming along wonderfully. They have a castle and a cathedral (with an organ!), grand houses for the nobles, hovels for the peasants, little serfdom farms things, and, oh, Benjamin is also constructing a "Public Forum for Torture and Execution," his words. He has a guillotine, some gallows, a disembowelment table, as well as a lovely little scene of a mini-figure being dismembered by horsepower. It's...a little disturbing...but he's taken great lengths to research medieval execution practices. The kids have also studied medieval architecture and society quite a bit. They're trying to make their Lego world as accurate as possible.

They keep throwing around words like "flying buttresses" and "portcullis" and, as I was walking away after Benjamin gave me the tour of his, uh, "Public Forum," I heard him mutter, "Oh, murder! I forgot to build a murder hole in my fortress! Gotta redo that part..."

The "Oh, murder!" part comes from the FHE lesson Rachel gave on my great-grandma Ida, who was known to say, "Oh, murder!" when things weren't going well. The kids found that line particularly funny.

I'll have to head down there with a camera sometime...


  1. Oh murder! As soon as I read that, Grandma popped into my head! I could hear her voice!