The Sode

By Jerry D. Haight



We spent three weeks during the summer of 2007 with our ten year old grandson. Reid traveled with us by motorhome from Spokane to Estes Park Colorado where later we met up with his parents and gave him back.  


Shortly after our departure Reid told us he watched TV until 4:00 that morning and that he had not eaten breakfast yet. This combination is a sure-fire catalyst of a tude of first magnitude.  Oh. You have never heard the word “tude”?  To the best of my knowledge in tweenie, the word tude is what adults would refer to as a very crappy attitude. What is “tweenie”? It is my definition of the language of a pre-teen youngster.

   

Reid came clutching his tin box, It was about the size of a half loaf of bread. In the box was his Game Boy. To be more precise, it was not just a Game Boy nor was it a Game Boy Micro, or just a Game Boy Advanced. It was a Game Boy Advanced SP, with emphasis on the SP. Also in the box were some little electronic packages containing games with names like Pokemon, Yoshi Island, Cobalt, Ruby and Emerald. But the title that really caught my attention was “Final Fantasy”. I could hardly wait to snoop.


I read the prologue “For the peace and prosperity the world owes thanks to the power of the crystals. However, that power is nearing its limit. Not far off is the day when the wind slows, the water stills and the earth trembles and quakes—and yet everyone remains blissfully unaware and the grave secret hidden within the crystals remain untold.

 

I read further. “The gulgon thus prophesied: The earthquake was just the beginning. The great tremors that swallowed the crystals, the light of our world, only to spawn monsters from the depth of the scarred land are nothing but harbingers of what is yet to come. Something is coming  . . . fathomless, ominous and full of sorrow. .   “


I was to come to the conclusion that “Final Fantasy” tends to ignite players into a euphoric state where the ability to communicate is often reduced to mumbling. Friends and family diminish into shadows during gaming session. Calls to diner or for any other activity for that matter go totally unheeded. The euphoric state is so profound that any civilized attempts to break its spell is futile. If the spell is to be broken at all, it must be done through forceful and vociferous intervention. That is guaranteed to result in a sode.  


Our route took us over the bridge at Lake Coeur d’Alene dedicated in memorial of veterans, The path we followed was once traveled by Lewis and Clark, Jim Bridger and Hugh Glass. We passed the site of the encampment of the Blackfoot Indians. We traveled alongside of the Yellowstone River, We passed the site of George Armstrong Custer’s  demise. We crossed the Continental Divide. We saw the copper mine of Butte and the smelter of Anaconda. Along the way, we saw lots of antelope, bison, deer and several eagles. All of this fodder, we thought, would enlarge a young mind, but were received with a right handed roll of the eyes resting at last on the rooftops of the eyelids and the mouth forming the monosyllable “SOoooo.


At first, I interpreted the monosyllable “SOoooo” as an invitation for further explanation. But the explanation of the significance of each spot of history or each thing of interest resulted in a left handed roll of the eyes resting at last on the rooftops of the eyelids and the mouth forming the trisylable “Whatever”.  I figured that on these two words hung the entire vocabulary of tweenyism. Usually, it was the “whatever” that would result in the start of a sode.


We had many memorable adventures. At Indian Creek Campground in Buffalo Wyoming where the small creek emptied out into a marsh there was a sign warning “Watch out for Alligators”. Apparently, Reid believed the sign because when he talked with his mother that evening, I thought we might be purchasing a bus ticket back to Spokane for Reid. His mother had a major sode.


When Reid and I went to a shower. I wrote the shower code on Reid’s wrist with a sharpie so he would remember it. I wrote on my wrist also. My code washed off quickly but I saw Reid was still wearing his after the shower. I asked him if he used water. He said yes. I asked about soap, same reply. I asked about a wash cloth, same reply. I then called his attention to the code still prominent written on his wrist. His response was the right handed roll of the eyes which finally came to rest on the rooftops of the eyelids and coming forth was the monosyllable SOooooo?.  We discussed cleanliness and a few other virtues . This bi-lateral discussion drew the left handed roll of the eyes which finally came to rest on the rooftops of the eyelids and coming forth was the trisylable “whatever”.  This was another sode.


Several times, Reid walked his bicycle to our campsite and I did minor repairs on his chain. One time he came back with bruised hands. I asked about it, he responded that he didn’t know how it happened. Then one evening another camper brought Reid and his bicycle into our campsite. Reid was bleeding from his nose and mouth and his hands and knees were scuffed. Again Reid said he didn’t remember how it happened and later when I told him to wash up for dinner, he replied that he wasn’t hungry. Ah ha I said mentally, then told Reid that since he couldn’t remember the accident and now had no appetite, we would have to go the hospital emergency room because loss of memory and appetite were symptoms of a concussion.  All of a sudden, his memory returned and the details of his accident revealed. Then I found out that while he had a 21 speed bike, he didn’t know how to use the gears. My attempts to teach him about gear ratios and how to use them was also met with the tri-sylable “whatever”. This too was another sode.


I began to realize that a tweenies can function with a Game Boy Advance SP and two words, but I never realized the definition of sode until I overheard Reid tell his step brothers “they had another sode last night”, referring to his mother and step father who, according to Reid suffer from AADD. It was then I saw that these words are escape mechanisms; a way of coping with a very complicated life. Reid’s life is quite complicated with a step mother, birth mother, step dad and birth dad and two houses. At both houses there area multitudes of siblings, each with fathers and mothers and steps of their own. All too complicated for a ten year old to have to sort through. The words so and whatever are words of detachment vs engagement, of isolation vs inclusion.


When Phyllis and I got back to Spokane, Reid’s parents told us that all the way back from Estes Park to Spokane, Reid told them all about where we stayed and the adventures we encountered. He told them where we saw the antelopes,  bison, deer and the eagles. He told them about Lewis and Clark, Jim Bridger, Hugh Glass and Custer and the things we discussed along the way. He  remembered when I told him “if it’s going to be, it’s up to thee”.  He remembered my telling him that “knowledge is power”, and “big dogs bark”. Reid remembered four types of people (those who make or let things happen, keep things from happening or just plain don’t know what’s happening).  Yes, he also remembered the new way of fly fishing on a pond that I taught him, when he caught three nice trout in about five minutes. He also remembered that alligators do not live in Wyoming.  


But, there are also things I shared with Reid that he didn’t tell his parents; secret things between a grandfather and grandson. Things about God, about faith, values and integrity (things one does or does not do when no one is looking). We talked about Reid, that he is special, unique and above all, he is loved and has worth.


I am confident that these things stuck as well. Oh yes. AADD is text language for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, an all too prevalent malady of parents and steps of tweenies.