It’s my fault that my younger son always gets sleepy in the car. I trained him to do that because I drove them around until they napped. I needed every coping mechanism I could use to survive having three kids in four years. They were never all asleep at the same time.
When my older son Garry was 5, he rarely slept in the car, but his little brother and sister that were 1 and 2 years old took a nap every day. On afternoons they sometimes revved up when I needed them to wind down. That’s when I bundled them up like sausages in a roll, tucked them into car seats, and drove around the small lake near our house. It was a pretty drive that took 45 minutes if you went all the way around.
Garry and I usually had some quiet time about halfway through as the little ones drifted off. That’s when we had some great conversations. He’s very curious, so our talks would start with a question. One day, Tommy and Kay dozed off quickly and Garry asked me, “Mom, what’s beyond space?” I remember the sun’s reflection made a thick, wavy line of mustard across the lake. It gave a leisurely feel to the cool Autumn day that fit perfectly with his philosophical question.
I paused briefly. Our universe is expanding, according to top physicists. I gave what I thought was a reasonable answer based on that fact. “Space goes on forever, so there can’t be anything beyond it.”
“But what’s BEYOND space?” he asked again, thinking that I didn’t understand his question. Clearly, offering a scientific answer was not going to satisfy him.
“Some people say that’s where God lives.” All I got in reply to this was silence. I glanced over at my son. Garry’s lips and forehead puckered in a puzzled frown.
I tried again. “No one knows what’s beyond space since no one has been there. You could become an astronaut and go there to find out.”
Garry’s scowl changed to a look that I’ve seen many, many times over the years. This expression boils down into one question. “How come my mom doesn’t know this stuff?”
That was the first day Garry felt his own personal cross to bear. It’s summed up by a phrase he’s never said, but I just know he believes. “It’s so hard to be smarter than your mother.”