Foreground: "It seems that agent 6373 has accomplished her mission" says one cow to another.
Background: "Chicago" in flames.
"I don't get it," I say to Ross. "Apparently some cow is causing trouble in the city," then I move to click to the next cartoon.
"Wait!" says Ross. "I know what it is about. You know the great Chicago fire of 1871? It was started by Mrs. O'Leary's cow who kicked over a lantern in the barn. Whoo hoo. That's funny. Like the cow was a secret agent..."
I scratched my head.
I paused for a moment, for dramatic effect.
I felt something shift.
I felt the tide change.
This was a pivotal moment in our lives.
You might be thinking, it is just a cartoon.
It isn't. You see, I'd never heard of Mrs. O'Leary's cow. Yet, I know something about American History. I like to think I do, at least. I have a degree in it.
Of course, I began to rationalize, the whole cow story was made up by a newspaper reporter, who knew an Irish Catholic immigrant scape-cow would sell newspapers. He later admitted the lie. I just learned that on Wikipedia.
But, you see, Ross knew it, and I didn't. We weren't talking about Pokemon or sports, subjects in which no one expects me to know anything. Including me.
He's only just nine. I think this Far Side cartoon begins the end. Obviously, I still have a few things to teach him, but how much, and for how long? This whole cow incident isn't just a one-off, and I know it.
I suppose I should have been expecting this. I've had years to get used to the idea, ever since he was 18 months old and I would ask, "Ross, show me the letter B, " and he would respond:
"upper case or little case?"
It is different now, don't you see?
I knew the letter B.
Both of them.