"Hey, Tyler! How are you?" (We talked an hour ago. I called them, pretending to be Barack Obama.)
"I'm good. And I just watched the scary scariest thing ever."
"What did you watch?"
"I watch this guy who put a sword through his stomach and another guy who set his head on fire and then this other guy who had to hold a bunch of things and juggle electric guns or he would be electricked."
"Well, that's a whole lot to see! Where did you see this?"
"On Poppa's TV."
(Enter: Implicit trust in my dad and his wisdom regarding what my children watch on TV. And if they're up half the night in terror, he'll have to answer to my mom who will conquer the sleepless night.)
"So do you feel afraid right now?"
"No. But it was super scary-scariest-scary-so-so-scary."
At home, we often pray at night for God to wash Tyler's mind of any scary things he might remember during the day. "Do you want me to pray for you tonight, kiddo?"
"Would you like for me to pray right now?"
"Yes. Sure. That would be great."
I bow my head here at the sports bar. "Dear God, thank you so much for Tyler and for how brave he is. Help him to have sweet dreams tonight, and please remind him that he is safe. He can be strong and courageous because you are with him everywhere he goes. Amen."
"A-men. Thanks, Mommy. Here's Tucker."
"Hello there, Mr. Obama."
"That's President Obama, to you."
"Mommy, I just watched a guy's head explode on TV."
"That's what I hear."
"And he wore this hat that was on fire. And he swallowed a sword into his stomach. The show is called America's Got Talent."
"And so how do you feel about all of that?"
"Fine. Poppa kept telling me, Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. So I won't."
"I'm glad to hear that."
"What's all that noise, Mommy?"
"I'm in a restaurant, eating my dinner."
"What are you having for dinner?"
"I'm having french fries. With cheese and ranch dressing."
"What will you eat after that?"
"Well, I think I'll have a dessert."
"Please tell me your dessert choices, Mommy."
"They have chocolate cake, and they have a kind of cheesecake something."
"Oh! Oh man! If I were you, I would have the chocolate cake."
"Then that's what I will do. Because that's what you would do."
"Do you think you can get special things on it? Like gummy worms and peanut butter cups?"
"Well, I don't think they have those in a restaurant like this."
"What kind of restaurant is it?"
"It's a sports restaurant."
"Yep. Baseball is on TV."
"Is it the Rockies? Are the Rockies playing tonight?"
(It's 9:07 where he is. Well, also where I am. We're in the same time zone. But I'm not about to launch him out of bed and downstairs to demand Poppa change the channel from the exploding heads and electrocution so he can watch Rockies baseball.)
"Um, I can't really see the TV from where I am."
"Are you kidding me?!"
You are so your father right now.
"I'm not kidding."
"Well, get up and go over to the TV."
"It's a commercial right now."
"Okay. I'll wait."
We wait. And we talk about what he would do if he were a guest on America's Got Talent. I think he'll say something athletic, but he tells me something about swallowing swords and electrocuting heads.
"Ah, the game is on again, Tuck."
"Okay. Who is it?"
"Um, a red team and a blue team."
"Mommy, read the words."
"Let's see. Texas."
"Texas and a red team."
"Who is winning?"
"I think the red team is winning."
"So, not Texas?"
"I don't think so, no."
"Okay. I'll be on their team."
"Texas. They need me."
"I think that's a great idea. I bet they really do need you."
"Mommy, please bring me gummy worms and Reese's cups. Those are the two things I want."
"I will look hard to find those and bring them to you." As is our tradition. Two candy bars is a small price to pay for my dip into the deep end of freedom.
"Here's Tyler. He's going to tell you what he wants."
"Hi, Mommy. Can I have two tee shirts?"
"I will try to find two tee shirts."
"What if I can't find Batman?"
"Then pick something you know I like. Not a handsome shirt, though. A picture shirt."
"Deal. I'll look."
"Wait. One tee shirt and one candy bar."
"Hi there. You have quite the conversationalists. And don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Including yourself."
Talking to my children on the phone: my new favorite thing.