On a rare, quiet Sunday, I began to plot a quest to Costco, Marshalls and the Disney Store to seek out Halloween costumes. What branded princess or pirate would set me adrift in malls this year, longing for my lost home like Odysseus? I sighed and asked my 5.5 year old daughter what she wanted to be. She replied, “Mommy, I want to make up my own thing this year.” I asked my 3 year-old son the same question, expecting to hear “Jake!” from his beloved Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He looked me in the eye and answered, “I wanna be a Passion-Fruit Puppy” (a character of his own creation that has inspired him to crawl around on all fours, barking, for the past week).

As usual, my kids are way ahead of me. Halloween, a holiday that has its roots in the European Christian custom of praying for the recently departed on All Souls Day, has grown ubiquitous in the U.S. because it is a celebration of the core American values of inventiveness and personal expression. What is Halloween if not an opportunity for our entire culture to engage in imaginative play? Letting my kids come up with their own superheroes is a way for them to symbolically express what they value and whom they want to become.

So based on my puerile fascination with The League of Justice and The X-Men, I asked my kids the following questions to help them develop their own superheroes:

  • What special powers does your superhero have?
  • How did he get his powers?
  • What is heroic? What makes someone a hero?
  • Whom does your superhero stand up for? What does she protect?
  • Who are his friends and family?
  • What is his secret identity? How does he or she disguise himself to blend in with ordinary mortals?
  • Does your superhero have a weakness?

At bedtime, our children regaled me with stories of “The Fairy of the Animals” and her sidekick, “Passion Fruit Puppy,” for a solid hour.  This play premise has evolved into an ongoing family mythology that has taken on a life of its own.

I am not “craftsy,” yet these costumes were a breeze to cobble together. I ordered a generic puppy suit and gold fairy outfit from Ricky’s. We are adding personal embellishments like a cardboard collar with fruit on it for the puppy. I am planning to duck tape stuffed animals to my daughter to avoid anything that resembles sewing.

To folks handing out candy, my kids will look like a plain-old fairy and puppy, but in their minds, and mine, they will be extraordinary.

*Story Source: “Why the Sky Is Far Away,” from The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales

It’s harvest time, and the markets are piled high with early apples and late tomatoes. This bounty is too easy to take for granted. Every afternoon, I unpack my children’s lunch tiffins and throw out partially eaten sandwiches and untouched, cut fruit. I salvage what I can, but much lands in the garbage. On their father’s side, my children are a single generation away from poverty and hunger: their paternal grandmother was pushed out of bread lines in Hungary in the aftermath of WWII. She worked on a communal farm from an early age and labored to grow enough food to survive. She cringes every time she sees me scrape leftovers into the waste bin.

The Bounty Always at Our Fingertips

In our culture of consumption and disconnectedness from the earth, I find it difficult to create an awareness, for myself and for my kids, about the energy that goes into the production of food.  Of course, the problem is not just food, it’s also stuff, all that stuff that comes out of and goes back into the earth. I’d like to learn to compost and plant a garden to teach my children to appreciate the earth’s yield. Since I’m a Jersey girl more comfortable with my hands in a sale rack than in the soil, it’s going to take some serious preparation. In the meantime, I can try to model consumer restraint (especially by staying away from my beloved Target), and I can share myths and stories that create an awareness that the earth’s abundance is finite and exhaustible.

I found a gem on this subject in The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales, a collection I recently picked up in Watchung Booksellers. “Why the Sky is Far Away,” lyrically retold by writer Dawn Casey and vividly illustrated by Anne Wilson, begins like this:

“In the beginning, the sky was close to the earth. So close you could reach up and touch it. And you could eat it! In those days, people always had enough to eat, without ever having to work for it. . . .Whenever anybody was hungry, they just reached up and tore off a piece of sky. ”

Then the people get greedy and start tearing away huge patches of sky, leaving them to rot. Father Sky warns the people not to waste his gift, and at first they heed his warning. But a festival day comes along, and a woman of enormous appetite named Osato drinks too much palm wine and loses herself in a food reverie (like me in Whole Foods). She pulls down huge swaths of sky. One of the things I love about this telling is that Casey describes all the fabulous ways the sky can taste, like “spicy, sky stew,” “honey sunsets,” “citrus storms,” “golden paw paw and coconut milk.” The reader’s mouth waters along with Osato’s as she gorges herself.

When Osato realizes she has taken more than she can eat, she begs her family and neighbors to consume what she cannot, but everyone is too full from the feast. They groan and hold their stomachs as they try to force down the excess Osato has ripped from the firmament. In the end they leave over, “just a bit of waste.” True to his word, Father sky lets out an enormous sigh as he lifts himself away from the earth and away from the reach of humans forever.

The people know hunger for the first time. Osato wails, and Mother Earth calms her with a gentle promise: “I can feed you. But you will have to work for your living. You will have to learn to plow the fields and sow seeds and harvest crops. . . Take only what you need, and I will give it gladly.” The story equates food with labor, which is an idea I’ve been trying to get my kids to grasp for a long time. It also reinforces that we have a responsibility to the earth, which provides us with LIFE. It reminds us that any one of us could go hungry someday.

In a way, this folk tale has accomplished what steady nudging could not with my kids. As we read this story, we all rolled our eyes and laughed at Osato, even as we identified with her. I’m going to try to pack and buy a little less.  I’ll try to keep Osato on my mind as I stroll through store aisles, salivating.

* * *

After a long day, my children got into a tussle over a piece of gum.  My daughter attempted to pry this treasure from my son’s fingers, and he whacked her. After I intervened, he sobbed a heartfelt, “Sorry.” My daughter, chest heaving, panted, “I do NOT accept your apology.” I sat her down and explained, “Forgiveness is also for the forgiver. When you forgive someone, you let go of the anger in your heart and you become lighter and happier.” “Okaaaay, I forgive you,” she sighed and he fell into her arms.

Lest you think I am an emotional Jedi Knight, you should know I ripped this bit of wisdom directly from an ancient Jewish story called “Rabbi Eleazar and the Beggar,” which I just read to my kids from Eric A. Kimmel’s wonderful collection of holiday folklore, Days of Awe: Stories for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In the story, a deformed and filthy beggar listens through a crack in the door of the temple as the great Rabbi Eleazar gives a sermon about how everything in creation is perfect in its own way because it has been molded by the hands of God. The hideous beggar approaches the Rabbi to express how moved he feels, but the startled Rabbi, riding home on his horse blurts out, “Heaven shield me from such ugliness!” The beggar is enraged and humiliated.  The Rabbi knows he has acted against his own principles, so he begs the beggar for forgiveness. The beggar refuses to forgive him, so the rabbi shreds his clothes and prostrates himself in the dust at the feet of the beggar and refuses to move. Still, the beggar withholds forgiveness. Each of the Rabbi’s four sons try to convince or bully the beggar into forgiving their father so the patriarch can come home and they can have Rosh Hashanah dinner already, but to no avail. Finally, the Rabbi’s daughter speaks gently to the battered and friendless beggar:

“My friend, the One Who Made You has already forgiven our father. He is always ready to forgive. Our father requires nothing from you. Instead, he afflicts himself for your sake. He understands the bitterness of withholding forgiveness, of storing up malice like stones. He will not leave this spot until you accept this apology and drop this bitter burden from your shoulders.”

The beggar forgives the Rabbi, who cloaks him in his own coat, and takes him home to share the holiday dinner.

This story gets to the heart of why the Days of Awe, the days of self-reflection and atonement encompassing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are so powerful. Atonement is not just about recognizing your sins and shortcomings and making up for them through a fast, it’s also about forgiving yourself and those who have hurt you so that you can move on and flourish. Forgiveness is the doorway to renewal. Letting go of negative emotion is the key to a fresh start in the New Year. Thank you to storyteller and folklorist Eric A. Kimmel for giving me a narrative way to express this wisdom to my kids!

My hometown is aflutter with butterflies. Slow your pace in front of the purple blooms of a butterfly bush and you will notice these delicate survivors, intent on the sweetness of living. Many small brown & orange butterflies alight on our bush, but there are only two, large tiger-striped swallowtails left. Last week there were many. One of the swallowtails has a long tear in his mustard wing; he sips frenetically, bloom hopping.

Our Butterfly Bush

If they are lucky, adult butterflies live 20 to 40 days after emerging from their cocoons, mating and taking sustenance from late summer flowers. Their prime seems so short and fragile. Perhaps that is why they are often symbols of impermanence. Today I told my children this Native American story, based on an episode of the wonderful animated show Raven Tales, which airs on the Smithsonian Channel, and a version of the story on the website of the United Cherokee Nations. (Children’s television does not get deeper than Raven Tales. Check it out!).

Here’s my retelling:

There was once a time when children did not grow up or grow old. The Great Spirit knew this way was not sustainable, but he wondered whether the children were ready to change and grow up. He sat on a boulder and watched the children playing, their lively brown eyes flashing, their smooth skin rosy and flushed, and he felt worried that they would not be able to handle the responsibilities of adulthood, and sad that someday they would have to feel the aches and pains of age, that their beauty would wither and fade like a bright autumn leaf. He wanted to make sure they were strong enough to understand.  So he made them a present.

The Great Spirit took all of the colors of nature, the browns of the soil, the reds and oranges of sunsets, the greens of moss and leaf, the whites of the children’s smiles, the yellows of the sun, and blended them together in a huge sack. As an afterthought, he threw birdsong into the mix. Then he shook the sack and pulled out sticky, oval objects that he gave to each child. He told the children to protect the objects until summer’s end. He asked Raven to help the children care for the gifts. The children were perplexed–the sticky little things were not very interesting. Sometimes they forgot about them and left them beside streams and under trees. But Raven always brought them back to the children, squawking and scolding and muttering under his breath.  

When the Great Spirit returned, he thanked Raven and gathered all of the ovals into his hands. He blew on them and from his hands flew hundreds of butterflies, in every color of the rainbow. The children stood amazed and awed. All of the people danced in appreciation of this beautiful new creation. But Raven and the other winged ones sat on the Great Spirit’s shoulders and complained. They felt it was not fair that he gave away the gift that made birds special, birdsong. So the Great Spirit took song away from the butterflies, leaving them silent. 

The Great Spirit asked the children if they were ready to change, and they said yes. He told them to remember that growing up is a gift and a responsibility, and that anytime they felt frightened, they should remember the butterflies, how they filled the sky with their colors for a short time, drinking sweetness and bringing new life to the world. The butterflies would always speak, without sound, of happy times. And then the children began to grow up.

# # # 

For many families, August is a month of  journies. Travel is transformative because  it breaks your habits, makes you an observer, and changes your perception of home.  The ultimate story about how a journey can transform a person is Homer’s The Odyssey, but I assumed I wouldn’t have a chance to share this legend with my kids until they became teenagers.

So I was surprised and pleased when I stumbled upon Mary Pope Osbourne‘s Tales From the Odyssey in the Montclair Public Library. Ms. Osbourne is the author of the middle-grade historical fiction series The Magic Treehouse, which my daughter laps up. Osbourne, who writes for the 7-10 crowd, is masterful at keeping language simple while making plot dense and informative, so I thought she’d be just the person to write a middle grade version of The Odyssey, which my daughter and I pledged to read bit by bit on our journies in a dented S.U.V this summer.  We’ve read the series aloud in the car, in bed, lakeside and poolside.

Ms. Osbourne’s Tales from the Odyssey, bound up neatly in a two volume set, is not a “fractured” or reinvented version of Greek myth in the style of Rick Riordian’s wonderful Percy Jackson & The Olympians series.  Her plot studiously follows the arc of Homer’s epic as translated by masters like Robert Fagles and Allen Mandelbaum. Even as she strips down the language for children,  she is careful to match Homer’s tone and characterization. For example,  Riordian’s Calypso is a lonely, appealing, relateable teenager who got a raw deal from the Gods, while Osbourne’s Calypso is a glittering, dangerous, love-sick captor of heroes in the tradition of Homer. This is a middle-grade retelling for purists who want children to have a foundation in the original storyline before they move on to more inventive retellings of Greek myth.

In terms of the age appropriateness, I might have gotten a little ahead of myself by presenting my not-yet 6-year-old with The Odyssey, in any form.  My daughter reads above grade level but she is emotionally 6, and I balked when the Cyclops chomped down a handful of Greek soldiers like french fries; when the immoral cattle of Helios lowed as they were being grilled and eaten by Odysseus’ men; and on and on. I kept telling my daughter that we should put the book down until she grew older, and she would beg for “just one more chapter.” My daughter seemed enthralled by being a little scared by this book, but I don’t think it’s the right choice for every kid, whether they are 6 , 8  or 10. There is lots of violence in this series, yet the sexuality is muted. It is not clear that Odysseus has anything more than a friendship with the various island enchantresses who shelter him.  The reunion between Penelope and Odysseus is deftly handled and true to the original.

Mary Pope Osborne’s Tales From the Odyssey is a book that should be read critically and discussed.  Some of the values in the story should be challenged.  With its eternal themes of revenge, seduction, longing, death, loyalty, and bravery, it’s something I’d want to discuss with my kids at any age.

Rhaksha Bandon, an Indian festival that celebrates and reinforces the love between brothers and sisters, falls tomorrow, Thursday, Aug 2, with the setting of the full moon.  When I lived in New Delhi, I watched a friend use this tradition to cement the bond between her adopted daughter and her two biological sons.  I wish we had an equivalent holiday in the West. I love the idea of a ritual that inspires siblings to pledge their loyalty and renew their love every year, both as children and adults.

A Rakhi for an adopted ritual

Our brothers and sisters are powerful forces in our lives. When we are small, our sisters and brothers are the whetstones against which we sharpen our identities.  Siblings walk the long road of life together:  they can be our playmates, our protectors, our confidants, secondary parents to our children, our partners in grief and joy. Sibling relationships can be stormy, and especially in need of a ritual expression of love.

The tradition on Rhaksha Bandon is for a sister to tie a bracelet made of colorful thread, called a Rakhi around her brother’s wrist, and to say a prayer for his well being. The brother then pledges to protect and love his sister, and gives her a gift, such as clothing, jewelry, or an envelope full of money. The siblings then feed each other sweets.

Like most Indian holidays, Rhaksha Bandon is associated with multiple legends.  Some trace the ritual binding of the sacred thread back to Indra, the god of thunderstorms and war. In the story, Indra is locked in a losing battle with a demon king until his consort, Indrani , ties a scared thread around his wrist on the lucky full moon day of the Hindu month Shravan.  Her blessing rejuvenates him and enables him to defeat the demon.

Another legend associated with the festival’s thread-binding ritual is that of the chaste love between Krishna (hero of the Mahabharata and an incarnation of the god, Vishnu) and Draupadi (the polyandrous wife of five brothers, the Pandavas). When Krishna was wounded in battle, Draupadi knelt at his side, tore her sari, and bound his wounds with it. Krishna proclaimed her his sister, in spirit if not in blood, and promised to protect her for evermore. Later in the epic, Duhshasana drags Draupadi into court to be publicly stripped and humiliated.  He attempts to unravel her sari, but Krishna uses his divine powers to extend the thread of her sari infinitely, confounding all attempts to undress her.

Rhaksha Bandon probably evolved into the a celebration of the love between sisters and brothers because it was a way for Indian wives, who traditionally went to live in their husband’s homes, to maintain contact with their natal home and oblige their brothers to protect them after marriage. Today, the holiday has become a way for siblings spread all over the world to maintain contact with one another and send love in the form of a bracelet.

Whether or not you are Indian, Rhaksha Bandon is a good excuse to celebrate sibling relationships. My family is not Indian, but I hope our version of the festival will be authentic in intention if not practice. Tomorrow morning, my son and daughter will exchange Rakhi and compose their own promises to be good to one another in the coming year. We bought our Rakhi at Kalustan’s in New York, but a simple thread or ribbon will suffice. I’ll also bring my brother a simple handmade Rakhi and tell him I love him.

Heck, I’ll call my sister too, and send her a little gift. In the end, the bracelet is just a symbol of your intention. So call your siblings!

# # #

I cannot wait for the pageantry and ritual of the Olympic opening ceremony tonight, thought there are a whole lot of traditions from ancient Greece I’m glad we have shed. The ancient Olympics, which began in 776 B.C., were open only to free men who spoke Greek. Not only were women barred from competing, married women were forbidden to attend under pain of death. (See The Perseus Digital Library). I assume maidens were permitted to attend so that they could be seen, appreciated and vetted for marriage by the aristocrats who funded the athletes.

By 560 B.C., there was a separate set of athletic games for women called the Heraia, dedicated to the goddess of marriage, Hera, and probably positioned as a prenuptial initiation rite.

Understanding the cultural history of the Olympics reminds me how important it is to ACT on the sexism  of Greek mythology when sharing these ancient stories with modern children.  On story in particular that had always fascinated and troubled me is the tale of great female athlete Atalanta, which goes something like this:

The cruel king who fathered Atalanta abandoned her in the woods because she was not the son he had hoped for. She was nursed and raised by a she-bear, the goddess Artemis in disguise. After she was caught in a snare by a huntsman who taught her to speak, she won fame all over Greece for her fleetness of foot.  She humiliated an army of ineffectual Greek warriors by slaying the monstrous Caledonian boar with one deftly placed arrow. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an oracle warns her “you must shun any marriage; if this advice will not be taken; though you stay alive, you will have lost yourself.” (Allen Mandelbaum’s translation)

Atalanta’s worthless father, the king, reclaims her as she wins more fame for her hunting, grace and fleetness of foot. She makes him promise that any suitor who wishes to marry must beat her in a footrace, or be put to death. She is gorgeous, almost supernatural, as she runs, as so many great athletes are.  Many suitors are beaten and put to the sword. Finally a young prince named Melanion (or Hippomenes in the Roman version) sacrifices to Aphrodite, who gives him three golden apples. As he races Atalanta for her hand, he throws down the apples on the path. Each time, she strays a little further from her course to retrieve the irresistible, gleaming apple. Just as she picks up the third fruit, he crosses the finish line and “wins her” as his wife. In their passion, the married couple forgets to sacrifice to Aphrodite. Miffed, she turns them into a pair of fierce, growling lions.

It has always bothered me that Melanion must conquer Atalanta and make her stray from the path of greatness in order to win her. This story begs for retelling, and this week I’ll give my kids a chance to do that. The perspective I’d like to change in the story is that of Melanion.  I’ll report back in part 2 of this blog post.

No toy has held sway over my daughter’s imagination like her pastel My Little Ponies. At 5 1/2, in transition from little kid to big kid, she’s reading on her own and looking to take her pony obsession up a level. So I knew it was a done deal when, at a book sale, she picked up the second book in the Bella Sara Series,Valkrist’s Flight,  with a cover adorned with a shimmering, winged, white horse complete with a purple orchid tattoo on it’s flank. Total girl catnip.

The Bella Sarah series is intended for children aged 7-10; I knew it was something I should read with my 5.5-year-old and I was dreading it.  I expected ponies, princesses, gowns, girl rivalries, etc. I did not expect to meet the Valkyries in the course of the story. In Norse mythology, the Valkyries are handsome warrior maidens who accompany the father-god, Odin, into battle on winged horses. They are muses of war, inspiring courage and fury. When a hero falls on the battlefield, a Valkyrie sweeps his soul from his body, slings it across her saddle, and carries him to Valhalla, a hall in the gods’ home of Asgard where war heroes spend eternity eating barbecue, guzzling mead, and brawling.

Valkryies, Two Ways

I keep my beloved D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths locked and loaded for the time when my daughter is ready to read it, but she is not mature enough to handle most of the stories. . .  yet. Norse mythology is a particularly bloody, bellicose and blackly humorous body of narrative in which Balder, the God of light and beauty is murdered; Loki, the shape-shifter, changes into a mare and is impregnated by a stallion; Odin, the stern father-god, plucks out his eye and hangs himself from the tree of life to obtain wisdom; and oh yeah, the world ends. Few of these tales scream, “Read me to a little girl!”

However, the author of the Bella Sara series, Felicity Brown, has found a way to weave Norse mythology into modern coming-of-age stories about horse adoration. The first book in the series is populated with wolves descended from the great wolf monster of Norse Mythology, Fenrir. Book 2, Valkrist’s Flight, is the story of an orphan who discovers she is the descendant of a banished Valkyrie. I thought this was a really interesting premise and hoped to see the story of a modern Valkyrie develop in the tradition of Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, but it seems the Bella Sara books are a series born of playing cards. Therefore, each story is the story of a different of a different girl in love with a different horse; they are meant to be collected like pretty ponies. The mythology in this series is decorative, though the values of self reliance and compassion for animals that the books promote are admirable.

When you can’t find the book you want, create it. In ancient Norse culture, the Valkyries were used as a way to sweeten the horrors of war, as mythic propaganda. Sharing myths with kids gives a parent the chance to examine a culture’ values in relation to one’s own.  I’d like to tell my daughter a story in which a modern Valkyrie chooses to spare a life and reject and an endless cycle of war. Tonight that’s what I’ll do.

My family and I have just returned from a week at Piseco Lake, in the Adirondacks, where my paternal relatives have lived and/or vacationed for generations. We stayed in my grandmother’s house, on the lip of a lake where she once washed and wrung her sheets before laundry machines existed.  It was a week of water and fire, with fireworks exploding above the black sheen of the lake, and marshmallows toasted over campfires as we listened to lapping waves.

My family members like to think of ourselves as native to the Adirondacks, but of course, no white person is native to the Adirondacks. When my dad was a kid, he dislodged Indian arrowheads from bark and dirt with his pocket knife. History is also lodged in the words we use. Piseco is a Native American word for fish.  Adirondacks is an Anglicized version of a Mohawk word that means “They Eat Bark.” The Mohawk Indians, a nomadic tribe that used the Adirondacks as fishing and hunting grounds, named their neighbors, the Algonquin Indians, ratirontaks, for their practice of sucking on bark when food was scarce. This pejorative word was applied to and misappropriated by white settlers. Eventually it evolved into the name for the mountain range.

During this week of campfires, I thought a Mohawk story about how mankind obtained fire would raise my kids’ awareness about the original people of the Adirondacks, and educate them about a way of life in which it took more than a match or lighter to ignite a flame. I found the story of How Fire Came to the Six Nations on the website First People. The (by-no-means-authentic) version of the story I told my children at our campfire is heavily based on this account, with a layer of personal interpretation that’s the natural result, and perhaps the point, of retelling. It went something like this:

Long before your cousins hunted in these hills or your great-grandfather fished on the lake, a tribe of Mohawk Indians came here each year to hunt, fish and gather blueberries, to feed their families with the bounty of this wild place. 

There was a boy, almost a man, named Three Arrows in that tribe. The sun shone in his heart: he smiled as his arrows flew straight and true. His father was the chief of the Mohawks, and he recognized something powerful and unbreakable in his son. He knew it was time for his son to commune with the animal spirits, the tribe’s protectors, and to find his place amongst the members of the tribe. He told his son that he must go into the forest and fast, eat nothing and see no-one, until the Great Thunderbird sent him a vision to help his tribe.

His father warned that if he did not see a vision by the setting of the sixth sun, he would have to return to the village. Three Arrows was excited about his journey into the wild of dreams. He brought nothing but water, and the moccasins and loincloth he wore on his body. For many nights, starving and alone in the woods, his dreamed of nothing but black emptiness and he worried he would have to go home in defeat. On the fifth morning, he found a cave that smelled of bear, the totem of his tribe. This was strong medicine. He prayed to Great Thunderbird to send him a vision, and suddenly lightening lit up the sky outside of the cave and he saw the silhouette of a huge bear.  The bear told him a great mystery would be revealed to him that night.

The dream-bear disappeared just as a huge lightening bolt that resembled a blazing arrow lit the sky. The boy braved whipping winds that smelled of bear to walk in the direction that the arrow pointed. He heard an awful screeching sound from a high peak above him, and his heart beat hard in his chest. He knew he had to heed the bear’s words and find what it was the spirits wanted to reveal, so he climbed the peak, where saw two balsam trees rubbing and rubbing together as the wind whipped them. The trees threw off a spark, like tiny lightening. that ignited a fire.

No one in his clan had ever seen fire at this close range, and Three Arrows was terrified. He scrambled down the hill, but suddenly a vision of his family, his clan, entered his mind and he found the courage to face the strange magic. He climbed the hill, snapped two twigs off the balsam pine, and rubbed them together furiously. At first nothing happened, but he kept going until his armed ached, sweat ran down his brow, and a spark flew from the friction of his sticks.

The boy took this knowledge and this story back to the Mohawk people, who gave him a new name, Blazing Arrow.          

I wasn’t quite sure how much of this story my kids absorbed, but today my three-year-old picked up two sticks and began rubbing them together furiously, so he learned something. Hopefully, he won’t get too good at this!

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