A thousand years ago when I was but a wee lad my father told me that he wouldn't let me play high school football because I was young, dumb and stupid. Although I used all of the prodigious debating skills a 15 year old could muster, I was unable to change his mind.
Furious with his heavy-handed manner I took my bike out and rode like a mad man around the neighborhood and through the city. More than one driver honked at me and received a sharply worded reply that consisted of four letter words and a gesture. It was the beginning of my adventures in driving.
Now I could recite many tales of valor and bravery that I earned while driving as well as a few that should be classified as utter stupidity. Such are the stories of the men that survive the young and dumb years when we curse and scream at others. It is one of the blessings the dear lord grants us- extra testosterone with a heaping dose of bravado.
But this is not the time nor place to regale you with such stories. I'd make my male readers green with envy and cause the females to swoon with lust. No, I'll save those stories for a later date. For now I wish to speak of what has happened to me since I became a father. The days of cursing and creative lane changes are long gone- most of the time.
Age has brought more patience and a dose of wisdom. I don't want any more aggravations in my life. I have too many responsibilities and too much to do. Consequently I am a more cautious and patient driver than I used to be.
Not to mention that I am very aware of the presence of my children. Whenever they are in the car I make an extra effort to be good. Better to be a good role model, or at least try. Sometimes we are less successful in that area than I'd like.
Such as the time my three year old son asked me what "fuck" meant. I told him that I said "truck" and he told me not to lie to him. In one fell swoop he fed my own line right back to me and caught me in a fib. Damn if I didn't think he had been asleep, not to mention that I really had been cut off by a truck.
Six years later the dear lad has a much better understanding of how to use these words appropriately. For example a car ran a stop sign and we were forced to slam on the brakes. He asked me if it was ok to call the other driver a "stupid asshole."
I looked in the rear view mirror and found him staring back at me. The smile I had expected wasn't there. Instead I was greeted by a quizzical look. So I told him that while it was probably an accurate description it wasn't something that we should say.
In return he told me it was ok because it was only the two of us in the car. During the next few minutes he grilled me on what words and expressions we could use. I have to admit that it too some restraint not to share some of the more colorful terms as I know that he would have been positively giddy to share that with me.
But he is only 9 and it is a bit early for him to start swearing like that. I told him that I want him to have command of the language before he used words like that. Of course moments later he told me about an "intangible wall."
It floored me to hear him use "intangible". Now I am biased, but that little man has a better vocabulary than many of the adults I know.
Anyway we went back and forth for a bit about language and what is appropriate. I kept trying to come up with a "Father Know's Best" line. Kept searching for that piece of fatherly wisdom that I could share, something that would make me seem wise and all knowing.
Instead I opted for the parental default of, "because I said so." It didn't have provide the satisfaction that I was looking for, but it did a good job of explaining why I called a driver in the parking lot at Trader Joes, a "stupid asshole."
I love that store, but I hate their parking lots. I think that they intentionally build a lot that isn't big enough for all of their customers, but that my friends is a different post altogether.