Polka Derry Long

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At some point in adolescence, a boy begins to question the wisdom of his parent.

For me, the moment came in the 4th Grade. I was sitting at the kitchen table, studying for an American History test, while my mother, Nurse Vivian, was making meatloaf.  "Who discovered Florida?" I asked.

"Polka Derry Long," replied Nurse Vivian, happily crushing stale bread into the ground beef.

Yes, there in a textbook was the name Ponce de Leon, but Nurse Vivian insisted on Polka Derry Long, and for the first time ever I knew something that she did not.

It's taken me 40 years to see the difference between knowledge and wisdom.


My own son Zane has begun to question me. Eight years ago, he asked me if I was faster than God, but last week, as I was making meatloaf, Zane was sitting at the kitchen table. While crushing breadcrumbs,  I told him that he needed to do his Social Studies homework before he played on the IPad.

He muttered, "Thanks a lot, faggot." And looked up to see my reaction.

I knew enough not to flinch. So I pointed to the California lilac outside our window and said, "Look at that bumblebee. Engineers have proven that a bee has too much mass to generate lift. In other words, it can't hover."

Zane's brows drew together, "I don't get it."

I gave him my serious look. "That bee flies because no one told him he couldn't. This family is like that bee. We fly, despite these two queens, two at-risk boys and four rescue dogs making an impossible combination. We soar because we love one another. We don't let anyone tell us we cannot fly. Not even a Fisher-Paulson."

I'm not sure if I did the right thing the first time that Zane found flaw with me, but I do know that my job, just like Nurse Vivian's, was to continue loving my sons, whether or not there ever was a Polka Derry Long.  

With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.

Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriffs' Department and the father of two adopted boys.