The Great Pumpkin Mess Up
What happens when you talk and listen right past each other?
Posted Oct 31, 2019
I'm old enough to remember Linus, the Peanuts cartoon character, waiting in the pumpkin patch each Halloween, wanting to see the Great Pumpkin rise. Some people are not that old.
* * *
“Mom, we have to talk about something serious. Can we?”
My 14 year old son, Quinn, came into the kitchen, pulled out the chair across from me, laid his tennis racquet on the table and sat. I looked up from my newspaper, leaned over the table and mirrored his arm position – hands clasped in front of us.
“Sure, Quinn, what’s up?”
“I want to talk to you about the Great Pumpkin.”
I lifted my eyebrows. Some days I feel so lost as a parent even I can’t believe it. This felt like one of those days.
He’d just come from a tennis clinic, one of the last of the summer. He’d become rabid about tennis and it seemed to consume all of his thoughts. Until today.
“The Great Pumpkin. I see.” I leaned back in the chair.
Hmmmm, did we miss one of those early mother-son discussions somewhere?
“You know that it’s really special. It’s a big deal, I'm really interested, and this is the year for me.
“Well, Quinn, you know, some people really do believe there’s a Great Pumpkin.”
“Of course there is, that’s what I want to talk about.”
“Weeelllll, yes, just what do you want to do about it?”
“I want to go and see it, be part of it. I want to experience it. I’ve wanted to do this for a while, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know that. How long have you had this idea?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe six months or so. Come on, Mom. Can you help me with this? It happens the end of October. I should be ready to handle it. What do you think?”
“Gee, Quinn. That’s a tough question. You know I always want to support you but this is a new one for me. I have to get used to it.”
“What’s to get used to – I’m old enough to do this, I’ve built up my confidence and I don’t get spooked anymore.”
“How about the other kids? Are they interested in this?”
“Some. But they’re not all serious about it like I am. You know how some people are. But I’m ready to go.”
“Ooookayyy, just what do you want from me?”
“Either you or Dad should come with me. I want one of you there. You know, to be there for me, to cheer me on, help me through the rough spots.”
OK, it’s time to buck up, swallow hard and be supportive.
“Right, happy to help. And just where do we need to go?”
“Las Vegas, Mom. Are you not hearing me? The Great Pumpkin’s in Las Vegas, end of October. Got it?”
“Las Vegas? Let me get this straight. You want to visit the Great Pumpkin, see it rise from a field in Las Vegas? And you want me to be there to help you through this experience?”
“Huh? Field? Pumpkin? Rising up? What are you TALKING about?”
He sat back in the chair, reached for the tennis racquet and fingered the grip.
“Now hold it, Quinn. Don’t get so testy. Didn’t you just say you wanted to go see the Great Pumpkin, to ‘experience’ it, to be there end of October?
Quinn tilted his head and squinted his eyes.
“Aren’t you listening to me? Don’t you want to watch me play tennis?? At the Great Pumpkin Tournament in Las Vegas in October?”
Sorry, Linus, not this year.