Friday, April 27, 2012

The Wheelbarrow

When I was a boy, most of what I learned about how to move came direct from my father or my uncles or on occasion a neighbor; and most of that took the form of rudimentary sports. Dad would pitch a wiffle ball at us for what seemed like hours in the backyard, or walk us around a public golf course in the last light of the day when most of the golfers had gone and only the mosquitos were around. 

"Its kind of a dance," he'd say about swinging a golf club, not having any formal training himself in golf but eager for us to learn, "back to front; one and two."

"Your hips do the work," he'd say about swinging a baseball bat, "Your arms and hands are coming along for the ride."

I wasn't the best student in the techniques he tried to impart to me, but he stuck with it for several years. Until I was old enough for little league and soccer and as the Sean Connery character says in "The Untouchables," the lesson endeth here." I then took my queues from coaches and what I could learn from other boys. 

Because my son is disabled, the transition to coaches has happened a lot earlier. It's happened for both of my children. They're learning the basics from folks who are trained to give those lessons. PT, OT, Speech and swimming for now; but other sports will follow. I've had to let go early. 

And I've struggled to wonder what from me they will actually have. My father gave me a good hook shot for basketball and a good short game in golf, but with the hours I'm working and the myriad of other folks helping them, what will they take from me? 

"Wheelbarrow!" my son says when he sees me doing pushups in the morning, "Wheelbarrow me Daddy."

He's the first one up, and while his mother and sister are still sleeping, we take a toy or pillow or a stuffed animal and toss it some way across the living room floor and I grab the boy by the hips and let him walk his way over by hand. 

"Yeah!" he shouts when he reaches that toy, and collapses in a laugh, "I did it!"

My daughter gets basic self defense in the evenings when her brother is sleeping and her Mom is taking a break. 

I try to do those an any other little thing I know will help him or her and that's within my skills. It's not much I know, and I doubt that any particular thing I give them will make much of an impact, but I believe that whatever I take the time to do with my kids will impress on them it's importance to me. That long term memories (and good habits and health) are formed by consistent repetition over time - I hope I'm right. 

I know at some point, like the proverbial father or mother teaching their child to ride a bike, that the kids will just sail off on their own and the lessons will end. I hope when that happens they take something like the memories my Dad left with me; even it it's just a memory of a wheelbarrow. 

Good night. 

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