Polka Derry Long

at 11:43 PM

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.

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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.

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

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