“Life is good for most of us.”
I love that quote. I didn’t come up with it though. One of my kids did. She’s six. :-)
You know, it’s been a little while since I’ve written one of these things. It’s not that I don’t have anything on my mind. On the contrary. I think I may have too much on my mind to even sort into words.
Anyways, here goes…
Every year seems harder than the last. Seriously. If this trend continues until I’m an old man, I will be the most resilient S.O.B. you’ve ever met.
Yet every day, I am greeted at the door when I get home from work from two of the happiest little kids in the world. A few days a week I am greeted with big hugs (usually) from a couple other kids of mine. It makes me wonder when did it start to happen? When exactly did life hand me lemons? And why haven’t I made any lemonade yet?
I don’t remember too much about life before I started elementary school. I lived pretty close to the school, though, so I felt as if I owned a part of it. I played on the playground more than the other kids, I rode my bike across the freshly painted dodgeball circle before anyone else. Heck, in my yellow and black five-speed mountain bike, I popped a wheelie and drove the entire radius of said dodgeball circle before anyone else!
After school, I practiced hitting walnuts with my baseball bat from my front yard and I’d try to make them go over the garage at the end of the yard. Every time I did it? Man, you couldn’t tell me nothing! I was the s.h.i.t.
I had more game than Parker Brothers growing up (in my mind). *Note: If you fact-check me, an error message may appear on this last statement*
Either way, I thought I was smooth, man. My license plates didn’t say fresh, and there were no dice in my mirror. However, my license plates DID say BGDDYJ and there was a boombox strapped in with a seat belt on the front seat because my radio didn’t work. By the way the BGDDYJ stood for Big Daddy J, NOT Boogedy, like my dad thought. Sigh…
I had a basketball goal in the middle of my yard on a telephone pole. I had bushes to climb through, and trees to climb. My dog’s name was Alf. He was the coolest dog ever, except for when he had “special time” with my football.
Speaking of that football, I could throw it all the way into that basketball goal from the other side of the yard. Seriously. No, really. I did it multiple times. Come at me bro.
I had the BEST friends. If I would’ve known how much they meant to me back then, I would’ve never let them drift away. We had nicknames. Oh yes, Big Daddy J was mine. But there was also a Bobby K, a K-Dog, a J-Smooth. There was the kid who I played with in the creek all the time. The kid who let me play his Nintendo if I did his homework for him first. Man, we thought we ran our town.
School was cool, too. I had multiple crushes, none of which liked me back. I didn’t care though. OK, maybe. Sometimes. OK, sometimes I cared, but not all the time. Geez…
School? Easy. Schoolwork? Easy. Life? Easy. I got a job…Life was even more easy.
So, what the hell happened???
Oh yeah, now I remember…
A girl liked me back. Somebody actually liked me. Like, we went out. We went on dates. We became a couple. It didn’t work out. That confidence boost landed me in another failed relationship. Then another. Dating was fun. Dating was stupid. Dating was fun again. Then it was stupid again.
Girls. Girls. Girls. THAT was my problem!
You know what will probably never stop being said to me when I mention to them that “yeah, all four of them are girls…?”
“Wow, you must be getting payback for something! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
So, I think back to all the times I was wronged, and all the times I was uhhh, righted? Is that even a word? It is today.
Anyways, I think maybe they could be on to something. I think maybe I can teach these kids a thing or two about a thing or two. I can teach them to play catch with a football. I can teach them to spin a basketball on their fingertips (I got mad globetrotter skills, bro). I can teach them to do sweet jumps on their Barbie bikes.
I can help with their homework, I can read them books. I can show them that men can fold laundry too, and that boys know how to vacuum. I can show them that boys can care about a girl, and try really hard not to hurt her feelings. I can show them that boys shouldn’t be too proud to apologize and definitely shouldn’t be too proud to cry.
I can wear my emotions on my sleeve, and let them see who the real me is. That little boy that they may relate to one day may be somebody just like me, or he may be somebody the complete opposite. But you can bet your ass I’m going to teach them about both versions.
Most importantly, I can teach them to treat others with respect. I can teach them to command respect in return. I can help them establish borders and guidelines with people they become close to both in the friend sense, and in the “other” kind of friend sense.
One thing that we parents forget sometimes is just how HARD life is as a kid. Sometimes, when we look back in our minds we block out all the bad stuff. Like I just did up there at the beginning of this blog. Like when I mentioned how easy school was.
What I failed to mention was that I was one of the smallest kids in my grade. The only guy shorter than me was the most popular kid. He was funny. He lived in a nice house. He was on Student Council. And ASPIRE (for the smart kids). The other short guy (me) lived in an old house. I had to take Speech class because of my stutter. I had gigantic buck teeth. In fact, they’re still kind of big. I had freckles. Lots of them. I had bifocals. In fact, I was Harry Potter before Harry Potter was ever in J.K. Rowlings imagination.
I failed to mention that when I entered seventh grade, in my first math class the teacher was calling roll-call, and it came to my name. When my name was called, three girls in unison sighed quite audibly. Funny, how twenty-three years later I can still remember who they were.
I failed to mention the back brace I wore for scoliosis, and how people called me Iron Man. Or how I had to wear it for 23 hours out of every day for a couple of years. I forgot to mention how I couldn’t play any sports growing up besides tee-ball in kindergarten because of my asthma and scoliosis. Oh, and it cost money, which wasn’t as readily available to my family as it was to others.
I forgot to mention the multiple failed attempts at a college education, because THAT is the very kind of these we adults try to forget about. We try to forge on in our every day lives, and make our selves better.
It is all of those years of experience, both the good and the bad that I have been trying to keep in mind every time my kid does something dumb. Something regrettable. Something awesome. Something funny. I remind myself of the little kid, then the teenage kid, then the adult kid that I was. I try to put myself in their shoes. I relive it a little in my head.
I think back to some of the things I did and just cringe. Then I think about the consequences I could have faced had I been caught doing those things. Then I think what consequences my children should face when they do something cringe-worthy.
All I know is I will be doing my best in reminding them of one very simple thing…
“Life is good for most of us.”