The New Dispensation
The New Dispensation: That's what Jim calls the new bicycle route that he and Charlie have been taking on their almost-daily bike rides. (It's not so much rain that stops them from riding but Jim's teaching schedule and the ever-earlier setting of the sun.) All summer long Charlie insisted that they do a particular ride that led them by a house where resides Nemesis Dog.
With all apologies to the dog lovers out there, this dog—big, white, and long-haired—always seems to be standing at attention on its owner's lawn just at the time that Jim and Charlie ride by. The owner has an electric fence up so the dog can't run out and chase bicycles and their (dog-fearing) riders. But explaining about an invisible e-fence to Charlie (especially Charlie on his bike with a clear look of get me outta here across his whole face) is not so easy, and especially when Nemesis Dog, prohibited by the e-fence, stands at the edge and barks barks barks barks barks. Loudly.
Not what the guardians of super-sensitive (to sound and otherwise) boys called for.
Charlie's fear is often mixed with fascination. When he was two years old and we lived in St. Paul, he had an all-consuming need to go and see a certain spot of red paint that had been casually splashed on the wooden step of a play structure on Selby Avenue. At the playground, he couldn't take his eyes off the red spot, though he didn't seem particularly happy, relaxed, or relieved to see the object of his fascination. (And getting him to leave the spot of paint made him, and us, decided not happy, relaxed, or relieved, you can be sure.)
Now it's been the same with Nemesis Dog, which appellation I've personally given said canine after Jim, having guided Charlie near and around and away from the e-fenced yard, noted that (from Charlie's perspective) the sole purpose in life of the dog seems to be to wait for 12-year-old boys on their bikes to ride by, upon which the dog comes running and raises an all-time bark-filled ruckus such that one 12-year-old boy in particular has started getting off his bike way before encountering said dog and pacing. And not wanting to get back on the bike.
Since the past week, Charlie has been taking a different route, one that takes him and Jim through the little downtown of our town and back and around the streets. Jim has termed this urban route (a huge overstatement if you saw what this town looks like) "The New Dispensation"—a quite fitting title and slogan for a new direction, like the one we're hoping Charlie is headed in, at least as far as his school situation.
One thing definitely to keep in mind: This new bike route was made by Charlie. Jim followed, and Charlie led the way. Street smarts? Those this kid has.
Better believe it!