One cool, Autumn evening found us around the dinner table with my oldest son eager to illustrate an experiment he learned at school earlier that day. This was where we always sit down together and shared our days’ events. If the boys had late basketball practice, we waited until they were home to eat. As they grew and became more involved in school activities, we sometimes caught up two days of frenzy and excitement, but we did get caught up. This bridged our differences as we learned tolerance and interest in each other’s walks of life.
“Pass the potatoes, please.” My youngest said.
“Mom, take the dish. Let’s change directions of passing the food tonight.” My oldest said with a smile that covered his face. He was sitting at the end of the table, not his usual place on the side seated across from me.
I noticed he wanted to be the last one to touch the bowls of food we passed around to each other all night. He placed the bowl of potatoes next to my ice-tea glass but it really wasn’t in my way. I ignored his smirk.
“We did an experiment on space in class today.” He announced after placing the green beans on the other side of my glass of iced tea.
“Did you discuss the planets and stars in the sky? That’s space up there, I believe it is outer space.” I said with glee as I noticed the breadbasket was now in front of my tea.
“No, We learned a new concept today. Hold out your hand. Try to stretch your fingers as far apart as you can get them.” We all followed his lead.
“That’s space, that’s the space of your hands. You can make the interval between your fingers wide, and then you can narrow it by pulling them close together.” He was feeling a bit superior by this time.
“Cool.” My youngest yelled with the same smirk on his face as his brother had at the beginning of this conversation.
We discussed in great lengths the parking spaces for our car, the amount of room left when the cars were finally inside the garage, and how much space it took to open the car door and get out of it. He went into detail about the space between each word when we write letters and the pauses during the transmission of a telegraph message.
This was intense. I thought to myself, what a day, what a teacher, teaching a new concept of space. I knew all this. I looked around and noticed everybody was laughing. This occasion was giving them an opportunity to really enjoy a secret everyone was in on but me.
I studied the carpet on the floor. By this time the room was in a roar, and my face began to redden. I could feel the flush.
“Mom, look at your plate.”
When I looked, every bowl of food, the salt and pepper shaker, the breadbasket, everything on the table-even their ice tea glasses was surrounding my place sitting. It looked like the battle of the century, and I was alone facing the century.
“We have invaded your personal space, and you didn’t even notice. You are either highly contented in your life or totally unaware of what goes on around you.”
“That’s what you learned in school today? What is your teacher’s name?” I must have been a bit loud for we finished
dinner in silence. But the next night, I passed the food last. It became a game, a game of a personal space invasion.
(word count 608)
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