“You … clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11 – NIV).
My sister hadn’t seen my son in several years yet she kept staring at him as we visited. She would often smile and sometimes outright guffaw at his antics. Of course, this only served to fuel his class clown mentality.
My daughter looked at me with limpid pools of pain as if to say, “Please would you stop him – he is ruining my life.”
Being a father of impeccable clarity of thought I simply ignored her pre-teen visual soliloquy.
My sister finally looked at me and said, “Your son reminds me so much of you.” She redirected her conversation to my wife, “If your children ever think that a slap fight is a good idea it’s a genetic malfunction from their father.”
Just then something tickled my son’s funny bone and he started to laugh. His laughter is one of those things that can’t be described, but is infectious and invites, nay insists, that others join in. The only holdout is my daughter who sees her brother as the most childish and embarrassing creature on the planet.
I’m glad my sister can remember what I was like because I don’t. Honestly I have no recollection of life prior to Junior High. Just bits and fragments of memories that I sometimes think are based on the memories others have shared. I’m not sure why this is the case, but my wife considers the link between my son’s behavior and my apparent class clown activity as a child to be valuable proof of – something.
About three years ago my family visited a favorite pizza place and consumed our fill. My children were trying their hand at one of those claw games when a lady came up to me and spoke my name. I turned to face the woman, but had no idea who she was. Then she said, “I was your Sunday school teacher many years ago.” I smiled in oblivion thinking that this must have given her a great memory to see one of her former students so many years later. Perhaps I shouldn’t have smiled.
She looked at my wife and said, “He was a brat.” Then the woman left the restaurant as the word ‘brat’ echoed through the establishment and everybody began to look at me and consider what I had done to this poor woman. If I knew I would apologize.
We left the restaurant.
My parents simply refer to my childhood as one that involved the word rambunctious. They never seem to indicate I was a handful. My wife thinks they simply got used to me.
Today my daughter, whom I am certain is meant to be a lawyer when she grows up, is convinced that the evidence points to a genetic predisposition to stupidity in the male line of children. She revealed an altogether fail-proof plan, “When I have children they are never going to act the way my brother does. They will not be allowed to have fun in public and they will not be allowed to do anything that would make people look at me funny.”
In one of my more brilliant responses as a parent I looked at her and said, “Good luck with that.”
At this point my daughter firmly believes she wants 12 children. She even knows that she would like one set of triplets and two sets of twins. Everything is clear-cut, black and white, without flexibility, and filled with unbending justice in her thought process at the moment.
My son is sort of a go-with-the-flow guy and doesn’t really worry about much of anything except how much milk we have left in the fridge.
So, it was a visit with my sister that convinced my family that I was, in fact, an embarrassment to them and that my son has apparently received an early inheritance.
“This explains so much,” my wife will say as she casts a devious grin at our son and me as we wrestle on the floor.
And if I look closely enough my daughter will be watching with a look that says, “I wonder if he will ever grow up.”
Not if I can help it.
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