“WHAT DATE IS IT tomorrow?” he asks, even though he’s sitting only feet from the wall calendar.
“March 15,” I answer.
“Beware the Ides of March,” he booms in the deep voice of a boy becoming a man.
“What does that mean?” I ask.
And then my 17-year-old spouts off bits and pieces of information, bits and pieces, about Shakespeare’s famous line in Julius Caesar—the warning from the soothsayer about J.C.’s impending death on March 15: “Beware the Ides of March.”
Then we are discussing Shakespeare and I tell him how much I dislike the playwright’s work except maybe Romeo and Juliet and the line, “double, double toil and something-or-other” from Macbeth.
I find Shakespeare’s writing stuffy and confusing and not at all fun to read, and I’m an English minor.
So I’m surprised that my boy, who professes to hate writing, claims a fondness for Shakespeare and Greek philosophers, which he just studied in humanities.
He thinks he knows so much and I know so little. I try to tell him that decades have passed since I studied these things. But he surmises that I am getting old and forgetful and maybe I am.
Mostly, though, I tell him I never cared about some of this information in the first place, so why would I remember it beyond knowledge necessary to pass a test or a class? Probably not the right thing for a mother to tell her son, but it is the truth.
I don’t care if I remember that the Roman statesman Julius Caesar was assassinated by Brutus and others on March 15 in 44 B.C. I didn’t remember; the smart junior in high school had to tell me.
Then today, on this middle March morning, before he headed out the door to school, my boy warned me, “Beware the Ides of March!”
“Beware the Ides of March!” I echoed. “Beware the Ides of March as you walk to school.”
He smiled a wide grin that told me that for that moment on this morning, March 15, I succeeded in saying something that was momentarily brilliant. Oh, joy, for the Ides of March.
© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling