“Mom. Is our planet called Earth?” asked Ben.
“Yes. We are earth. The blue planet.”
“Huh. I thought we lived on the planet Mexico.”
Sometimes I fear the public school system is failing him.
We were in the car, Ben in the back seat dressed in full Darth Vader regalia. He was speaking to me from beneath his black, shiny helmet. Honestly, he resembled Rick Moranis in Spaceballs more than the tall guy they got to play Darth in Star Wars.
Ben is trying desperately hard to be a good boy, which is really hard for people from the planet Mexico- not to be confused with the country in North America here on the blue planet, earth.
In my refusal to mention what racist thing Ben said the other day, I should have mentioned no pejorative terms were thrown about. I was told that because I did not relay what he said, people’s imaginations went to the worst possible places. Compared with the guesses family and friends made, Ben’s statements were almost inoccuous. Relief swept over faces when I told what had been said.
“That’s nothing. Listen to what my kid said about…”
In the car, we named all the planets.
“There’s Mercury, and the Venus, which is covered with a poisonous gas,” I said.
“Jupiter’s the gaseous planet,” John said.
“ALL the outer planets are gaseous,” I retorted. I know this from reading The Magic School Bus Chapter Book #4: Space Explorers, which is a scientific work on par with Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
“Caleb, do you know what color Mars is?”
“Blue and green,” he said with confidence.
“Nope. Mars is the red planet.” I was starting to feel smug about my space knowledge.
“I thought you said 'what color ours is.' Our planet is blue and green.”
Tonight, the husband is out watching the final playoff game; this week he travels. I am left alone here on the planet Mexico to discuss basic astronomical nomenclature with my kids.
“Mars people are called Martians,” said Ben proudly.
He is a good boy. They are all good boys. But sometimes I ache for grown-up conversation.
Tonight it is too cloudy to see Venus burning in the winter sky.