Every parent dreams of their children doing better than them, taking the lessons they’ve taught them and building on them.
“I’ll never forget when my father first explained how a combustion engine works.” I dream my son will say in his award acceptance speech for achievement in engineering or science or something. It’s unlikely, though. More likely it will be, “I’ll never forget when my father first laughed at one of my farts.”
I admit it. Like most men, I am quite immature. And through my immaturity, it appears I have infected my children with a profound vulgarity.
I can explain fairly well how a combustion engine works. Where rain comes from. Give very vague, muddled descriptions of how a TV works or a kettle makes water hot, but I have to face it. A love of knowledge is not what my son is learning from me. What he’s learning from me far more accurately represents who I am. And he is not content to simply repeat my past achievements. He is taking it to new heights that I could not have imagined.
“Daddy! Daddy! Look!”
My son stands before me, completely naked but for his underpants, which he is wearing on his head. Like a magician, he waggles his hands to indicate that they are empty, and that he is about to magically produce something. I’m impressed by his showmanship. He has my full attention.
Slowly, dramatically, he reaches behind himself. He leans forward slightly, gives a little slow wiggle, and pulls from between his naked buttocks a small, plastic chameleon. As if to validate the trick, he sniffs it and gags.
I am deeply conflicted. I’m repulsed, but I also want to cheer. I have to physically restrain myself from clapping. “Oh, son, that’s disgusting.” I say because I feel I have to. “Please don’t carry things between your-”
He holds up a hand to stop me speaking. His grin tells me that the trick isn’t finished. My mouth falls open as he reaches around behind him with his other hand, rummages for a moment, then with a wiggle and a flourish, he produces a second plastic chameleon from his bottom. He offers it to me to sniff, laughing triumphantly.
After a moment of speechless admiration, I give in and clap.