Me: “What is Quantum Physics?”
Josh (with a sigh): “Mom, it would take me way too long to explain it to you.”
Our eldest child, and only son, was selected to do physics research at Cornell University this summer before beginning his senior year of college. He was pretty excited, we thought because… well … it’s Cornell! Recalling a conversation years earlier, we remembered that one of the best tracks Josh said he ran on during high school was at Cornell. Financially he would never have been able to go to school there, so in addition to being able to do research there he also looked forward to getting himself back on that campus track.
Josh Skype’s us about once a week and updates us with stories of thin films, particle accelerators and cryogenic something-or-another. He talks about something called CHESS, a word that sounds like its right out of the 1980’s War Games or Real Genius movies, but is actually an acronym for Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source. And yes, I had to go on the website to see what it stood for. Notice I said “stood for”, not what it meant; like I could even begin to understand this field of study. Seriously, I feel like I’m getting dumber the more he speaks about these things. I had to ask him if a guy named Lazlo comes and goes through his closet.
So we’re on Skype and for those who are as technologically inept as I am, on this program you not only see the person you are talking with, you can also see yourself in the lower corner. So he’s chatting about these thin films that are a millionth or trillionth or something pretty thin of the thickness (or is it thinness?) of a human hair and I look at myself in the lower corner of the screen and see this middle-aged woman who squeaked through Coach Wagner’s trig class in high school, with this completely blank stare. This child would read calculus books for fun in high school! At this point, I’m thinking to myself, how can it be that I birthed this child? I know how … my husband is an architect, my dad is an engineer, my father-in-law is a pastor, and my brother-in-laws are architects, engineers, and construction and facilities managers. Clearly, those are the genes that run rampant in this child. I’m now trying to determine if he has any of my traits in him at all. I think he can make a decent pancake?
Josh likes to dabble in a bunch of things. So much so, that we have had many a “chat” with him about staying focused on his studies for his first three years of college. He was heavily involved in student government at the time and also doing some website design. So right after one of our “chats” he called us to tell us that he auditioned for and was selected as a member of the college choir. Tim and I looked at each other and without saying a word are both thinking, “What part of “focus” does this child not understand?” How does one who is studying Applied Physics become a choir member? For 19 years we didn’t even know he could sing! He taught himself piano and guitar, but singing? He tells us that singing is relaxing for him because he’s in such a difficult field of study at school.
I think that Tim has always been a little stricter with Josh than he is with the girls and when I ask him about it, he matter-of-factly states, “You’re darn right I am.” Josh, as the man and future head of his home, needs to get his house in order before everything God has planned for him following college comes along. Josh says what he’s doing now in his life is, “preparing his house.”
So if God blesses him and doing all of these different things, a lot which I don’t understand, helps him to get his house ready, who am I to question? I’m simply a mom, trying to let go of her first born so he can leave the nest and fly to his next home.
In the meantime, maybe I’ll pick up “Quantum Physics for Dummies.”