Since everyone in the family has an iPod, we bought a connection cord for each car so we can listen to them through the car’s stereo system. As happens with so many things today, one of them is broken and the other one is falling apart but still works. On a recent Saturday I needed to drive my son to a friend’s house and was taking one car but had to get the working iPod connector out of the other car so we could listen to the music we wanted to. As I got back into the car I went to lean my arm on the center console like I always do when I get into the car. However, for some reason my son had opened it, so expecting something solid to lean on and finding nothing, I kind of stumbled into the car leaning over to his seat.
My being a klutz is nothing new to my kids as I do things like that a lot, which usually garners a few laughs, so of course my son laughed at me. He commented on how coordinated I was sometimes and how that particular incident was quite elegant. Actually, what he said was that it was “like a swan”. We both laughed and I mentioned that both he and my daughter got some of that DNA in them, because the both of them do klutzy things all the time, too. I won’t tell you how well my daughter wears her food sometimes or how my son knocks things over or trips on things because I don’t want to embarrass them by going into the details. Suffice it to say that we’ve all had our not so shining moments.
As we drove, I told him how when I was a teenager I could be walking through my living room and trip over nothing. My Mom once asked me how I could play sports and have such good balance but then walk through a room and stumble when there was nothing near me. The only explanation I have is that I had this special super-hero-like talent that only worked playing sports; at other times I was just like everybody else. When I was in school, I never ran up or down stairs because I knew there was a good chance I would fall on my face or my butt right in front of everyone. So I took it slow and played it cool – all while holding onto the railing. Heck, I could do the opening theme to the old Dick Van Dyke Show without trying.
My wife loves to tell the story about an incident that showed how much alike my Dad and I were. Here’s the setup: We were at my parent’s house, sitting in the living room, which was by no means small, and which had a coffee table that Mom kept some plants on up against the wall. Dad left the room for something and on his way back banged his leg on the coffee table. He basically walked right into the table. Of course, we all laughed. You would think that after seeing that happen I would be a little more careful, but a few minutes later I went to the bathroom and on my way back, you guessed it; I banged my leg on the coffee table. I basically walked into the same table that was in the same place in the same room that Dad had just moments before! Like father like son, I guess.
So we get to my son’s friend’s house and he gets out of the car to go up to the house. I always wait until my kids get in the house before I leave because you just never know what may have come up in the time since they spoke to their friend. This particular house is a two-story house and he had to enter on the second floor, which required him going up a set of stairs to the door. I’m sitting in the car watching him and all of a sudden his foot caught the step wrong, he stumbled and went down. If I hadn’t been watching him the whole time, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed, because he was up in a flash. As soon as he was back on his feet, he looked over to check if I had seen what happened. I just pointed at him and laughed as he laughed, too. I then took out my cell phone and texted him a very simple message: “Like a swan”. Like father like son, I guess.
You know, it’s great when your kids say or do something that is intelligent, creative or just plain nice, and people say “Your son is just like you!” or “Your daughter reminds me of you!”. Those are the kinds of things I hope I never forget as I grow older. Walking into a table two minutes after my Dad did the same thing or watching my son trip going up the stairs after telling me how uncoordinated I was, those are things that I know I’ll never forget. Those are the things that make us who we are – real, klutzy and human.