Contrary to most couples’ experiences, having kids has alleviated many of my wife’s frustrations about me. My clamminess, sensitivity to heat and near endless need for sleep were viewed by Lindsay as annoying complaints that could be cured easily by wearing shorts and sandals. But now that we have two small boys, each of whom break into a cold sweat and need a nap whenever it’s over 85 degrees, she admits (and is even pleasantly surprised) that she didn’t marry a wimp. Instead, she married a strong, determined and principled man who’s simply hard-wired to be a fussy little bitch when it’s hot out.
As much as I hate to see my kids become sweaty and lethargic, I’m thankful that my complaints at the beach are no longer seen as pointless whining (even though that’s certainly what they are). Now my heat related cranky times elicit sympathy, whereas before they only fed her growing regret that she didn’t marry someone more upbeat and possibly even of Latin decent.
Now we keep the house at a nice cool temperature — not for me, but for the children. I just happen to be a major benefactor of their genetic predisposition to temperature related malaise. I feel sorry for Lindsay. She’s an outdoorsy person, while I’m clearly more indoorsy. We will encourage our kids to experience nature, but with ample amounts of water and maybe even a butler who accompanies them with an umbrella and manual spritzing apparatus of some kind.
Of course DNA accounts for only a part of our parental influence. There’s also nurture. These are the special things that we accidentally teach our children. For instance, I have ear, nose and throat issues (none of which are actual medical conditions) that cause me to snort, wiggle, and yes, occasionally excavate and launch various things, just as my father and grandfather did. I recently saw Silas, who’s not even five years old, hock a loogie and spit it onto the sidewalk like an unsocialized gypsy boy. I do that very rarely, but I guess it only takes doing it once at a stop light to leave a lasting impression on a young boy. Since peer pressure is the only force strong enough to combat nurture, I’ll leave it up to his kindergarten classmates to break him of that nasty habit.
Maybe even worse than the nose and throat legacy is that Silas has taken on my posture. At six-feet six-inches tall, everything is too low for me: the counters, the bathroom sink, my shoes, coins I’ve dropped. Chairs are generally too shallow and too short. If you’ve ever seen a picture of an NBA player sitting, they’re always slouched with their legs crossed or spread-out. It’s the only way tall people can be comfortable. If you see someone over 6’3″ sitting upright like he’s having dinner at Downton Abbey, his back is spasming and his ass cheeks are completely numb. Help him.
Silas is 38 inches tall. When your height is still measured in inches, you should feel very comfortable sitting properly on most children’s furniture. Instead, at his preschool on Friday, Silas sat in his chair with his legs crossed, elbow on his knee and chin resting in his hand. Just like his daddy during the second hour of a poetry reading. Unless I want a hunch-backed third grader, I have to start setting a better example.
I think I’ll go back to taking Yoga (laugh it up) so I can be a better physical example to my children. Also, I probably need a Neti Pot and a handkerchief.