As most of you know, I have a daughter named Emma. Now that she has allegedly reached the age of reason, I like to tell her little stories about my life that have a moral to them. Parables, if you will. That way she can comb the story for meaning, apply it to her life and, perhaps, become a better person for it.
Yesterday, I decided to tell her the story about how I learned to swim. I sat Emma down, put on my serious face and said, “When I was seven-years-old my stepfather thought it was time I learned how to swim. He put me in his boat and drove it out to the middle of the lake. He tossed me overboard and motored back to shore. I bobbed up and down several times, but right before I sank to the bottom I began to dogpaddle. I stuck my nose above the water and dogpaddled all the way back to shore. That’s how he taught me to swim.”
Emma raised one eyebrow and said, “Mom… he wasn’t trying to teach you to swim.”
She may be right.
So much makes sense now. Is that why I never had to wear a seatbelt in the car? Is that why he made me ride in the bed of the truck with the dog? Is that why I was told to drink out of the rubber hose when outside playing? I never owned a bike helmet or elbow pads—those were for sissies.
Remember Romper Stompers?
We couldn’t afford the real thing so my stepfather made me some out of old Folger’s cans and twine. I still have the scars on my shins.
How about Popper Knockers?
We couldn’t afford those either. He tied a string around two rocks and told me to go outside and play.
He got my first bicycle at the dump. It didn’t have a seat—just a rusty bar sticking up where the seat should be. He told me, “It rides good. Just don’t sit down.”
Yep, he was definitely trying to kill me.
I shook off the memories and finished my parable for Emma. “The moral of this story is: sometimes it’s sink or swim and that’s how you learn.”
At least I think that’s the moral. Now I’m not so sure.
Making the world a happier place, one book at a time!