I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
“Remember when you used to walk fast, Mom?” Elliot asked me. We were walking two blocks to our friends’ house; they had invited us over for dessert.
I generally have one walking speed — fast.
“I still walk the same speed I’ve always walked,” I said to Elliot. “Your legs are just longer now.” He’s got to be six foot two or so.
“No, you used to walk faster,” he said, quite sure he was right.
“I think I scarred you,” I told him, “when you were little. Do you remember walking around the block?”
Deirdre was with us and joined in. “When he was little, there wasn’t a block to walk around,” she said.
In a way, she was right. Our previous house had been on the outskirts of town. There was a block, though; it was about 1.5 miles around. I described to her the streets that we took. A third of a mile to the end of our road, another two-thirds of a mile to the next stop sign, a turn, and then half a mile up and down a hill back to home.
“How old was Elliot when he walked that?” she asked.
“I think he was around five or six,” I said. “Remember how busy he was when he was little?”
Elliot blushed a little at this. “I was not,” he said with mock indignity.
“Well, one day, he was so full of beans that I just didn’t know what to do with him, so I grabbed him by the hand and we walked around the block. The whole way he was struggling to keep up with me, but I just kept hold of his hand and dragged him along.”
“I was full of beans?” Elliot said questioningly.
“FULL of beans,” I assured.
When we got to our friends’ house, Elliot retold the story. “Apparently I was full of beans,” he said.
“Oh, you mean you were hyperactive,” my friend said.
“No, just full of boy energy,” I said.
Boy energy — the stuff that is more powerful than anything the Energizer Bunny has. The stuff that makes boys whack sticks against trees and skip rocks in the lake. The stuff that allows boys to build and destroy for hours on end. The stuff that goes into damming up creeks with mud and rocks so that they flood the neighbors’ yards. The stuff that is poured into rope swings and go-carts and bike rides and 1.5 mile walks when legs are pretty short.
If only we could bottle the stuff.