We went to the park this afternoon to play soccer and I ran for about ten steps and then twisted my knee horribly and fell on the ground screaming. After that, I just stood around and shouted encouraging words at The Bun who can run faster than I can, anyway. Even though he's FIVE. But hey, I was never a good runner. I used to run for fun, when I was in university, just randomly ran across town and back and I cannot for the life of me remember why I liked doing that and now my ankle is fused and my back is ruptured and other parts of me are so problematic that running would be embarrassing for all of us.
So I hung around and watched The Bun playing soccer with himself -- he very recently decided that playing soccer is his True Love (tm) and no other sport will do EVER AGAIN as a sad substitute for his beloved, even though up until LAST NIGHT, he's never mentioned soccer, played soccer, or even WATCHED soccer -- and I thought about how weird it is when your kids turn out to love (or be good at) something you hated (or were horrible at). You don't know this is going to be a weird feeling for you until it happens, trust me. Your kid is so much YOU (or at least 50% YOU), that when he turns out to be his own little person with his own IDEAS and LIKES and DISLIKES, it's like, WHAT? Who told you about... soccer?
Then I randomly remembered riding a school bus when I was six years old, on my way to go horseback riding with my school. I remember the bus ride but not the horses, which is actually sort of odd, because you could argue that horses are more memorable than buses, but it's the bus ride that I remember. We wore kilts as a uniform. So there we were, with all our knobbly knees showing above our knee socks. I was sitting with my best friend, Haven, who was pigeon-toed, a trait that I thought was adorable. And there I was, the opposite of pigeon-toed (duck-toed?), a trait that I thought was just hideous and filled me with angst.
So I was examining her knees and and also my knees and comparing, as you do when you are six and have nothing else obvious to do. And I realized that her knees had dents in basically the opposite way that my knees had dents and without looking at additional knees for more data, I decided then and there that my legs were attached backwards. It explained everything! Why I was the slowest runner in the class! Why I was crap at soccer! MY LEGS WERE ON WRONG!
It was many years before I realized that this was ridiculous. Many, many, MANY years. I was convinced. Something had been messed up and that was that. I didn't confide this terrible, horrible secret with anyone. I carried it with me like a black lump of coal in my heart. I was ... HOPELESS. Backwards legs! Duck feet! Knees with dents on the wrong sides!
The truth was that I was the slowest runner in my class because I was a year younger than everyone else and when you are a six year old amongst seven year olds, you're going to lose pretty much every time. But I didn't think of that then. Nope. Then I KNEW the truth. God -- who I imagined to be a sort of bored assembly line worker -- had been distracted during my construction, and had just slapped those limbs on carelessly, and the rest was history. (I also pictured this construction to be somehow related to the making of gingerbread cookies. I KNOW. I was six! I went to a vaguely Christian school where we prayed but were given no actual information about God! I didn't know better!)
Anyway. That's what I was thinking of at the park, this afternoon, while my son found his Grand Passion. Or at least his temporary crush. And I sat there and took pictures and hoped really really hard for him that he never, ever secretly thinks that he was built wrong at the factory. Because he's just right.
As was I. I only wish I knew it then.