Grandma Georgina had foolishly taken four Wonka-Vite pills, which—at the rate of one year per second—made her eighty years younger. Unfortunately she was seventy-eight at the time. As Charlie worryingly did the math, Willy Wonka assured the boy that he’s developed a cure for such an eventuality: Vita-Wonk. Mr. Wonka explained that, to counter the youthful effects of Wonka-Vite, he scoured the earth for the world’s oldest living thing.
And before I read the next sentence, I turned to Ian, nestled in the crook of my arm, and asked, ‘What do you think it was? What’s the world’s oldest living thing?’
He squinted and thought for only a moment. ‘A tree?’
I’d asked the question assuming that he’d been following the book, following the words. ‘Tree’ is an easy one, and apparently my assumption had been correct. Except, for some reason, I asked, ‘Why?’
‘Because they keep growing.’
We’d talked, ever so briefly, about plants during a walk on Saturday. How they keep growing. Ian made the point that some plants can’t grow [upward], so they use other things to grow, like telephone poles.
And in those few seconds, Ian had reasoned that because plants keep growing, and because trees are the biggest plants, they must be the world’s oldest living thing.
I didn’t speak, didn’t know how to respond. I felt like Creb, in awe when he realizes that Ayla can count higher than ten. There I was, banging rocks together to hear the pretty noise, while Ian was using them to build a house.
I felt wonderfully surpassed. Laughing and coughing, waving the cloud of dust from my face as I watch my son race into the distance and pause, waiting for me to follow.