What’s that chirping?

That’s what the Boy wanted to know.

You know, the sound that leaks from the treetops on summer nights — an ebb and flow of chirps that echo at dusk and build into a chorus by nightfall?

“Those are tree frogs,” I say with certainty. Because I’m an adult and I know these things.

“Ohh,” he says with wonder. He’s a boy; frogs are cool.

And just like that I’ve planted another seed of misinformation, germinating in my 3-year-old’s head. Just heap it on the pile. Along with jet streams.

That’s what I called the white smoky line left in a plane’s wake.

Martin caught the gaffe a couple days later. “No,” he corrected him, pointing to the sky. “That’s called a vapor trail.”

But the Boy would not be persuaded. “It’s NOT a vapor trail. It’s a jet stream. My Mom SAID.”

Therein lies the problem. My kid thinks I’m always right and Martin’s wrong.


Because I told him that.

I don’t recall the context, but we were in line at CVS when I said something like, “I’m always right. Your Dad is sometimes right….when he’s not wrong.”

A couple of weeks ago Martin and I were cruising around and ran into our neighbor, Liz. Her house backs up to the woods and the tree frogs were fabulously loud. Deafening. We had to raise our voices over the din.

They’re not tree frogs, Liz explained. They’re cicadas.

I looked up tree frogs on the internet. Turns out, they live near lakes, ponds, flood plains and cattail marshes. But not in our area. They make a bell-like “quank-quank-quank” sound. In fact, they’re called the “cow-bell frog.” (They sound like this.)

Of course a cicada is an insect with long veiny wings, big eyes and a green body. According to wiki, fried cicadas are a popular treat in the Chicago area. Really? (Here’s their call.)

So out with tree frogs, in with cicadas.

Until the other night, when we were swimming in our neighbor’s pool. To prove I’m not a complete dolt, I mentioned that the cicadas were especially loud.

Those aren’t cicadas, Chet said. They’re katydids.

Again, back to the computer.

Katydids (called Bush crickets by the Brits) look like grasshoppers. They rub their forewings together to “sing” during breeding season in late summer and early fall. (Behold, their sound.)That’s how I found out: our local tree choir is of the katydid persuasion.

But there’s no point clarifying that fact with the Boy. He likes to think that they’re frogs.

And that’s what I said they were.

And even when I’m wrong, I’m right.