My firstborn son is an instructor and administrator at a private school north of Atlanta. About a month or so, I wrote a brief rant about school choice. I then followed that with an appreciation of the work home schoolers do. And I offered my son the opportunity to provide a rebuttal.
Instead, he wrote about something that was more important: pickles, tickles, and family.
Here it is:
I have never been fond of receiving pickles.
My beautiful wife will remind me that I do like fried pickles and she is right…technically. But I like things that are fried much in the same way that she likes things that are chocolate covered – it isn't really about the filler. The cucumber just doesn't hold a great appeal to me in the same way that other chemically pickled foods do: corned beef on a camping trip, for example, is a culinary delight that aims to “wow” no-one but may very well surprise you. But pickled cucumbers taste to me like sadness steeped in vinegar. I've been a good sport, I even let Chick-Fil-A leave the pickles on my sandwich until I receive it, now; not forcing that poor cook back in the kitchen to make a special CFA just for the bald, yuppie, cripple. So you can say, pickles and I are at least on speaking terms.
I have also never been fond of receiving tickles.
Again, my beautiful wife will interject that I am not being entirely accurate here: I’m not ticklish. I do recall having been ticklish at one time. Moreover, my father recently related to my eldest son, Heath, that there was once a time when I would be rolled inside a blanket or rug and tickled while my arms were immobile. Heath was not impressed as he was not able to duplicate the results to his satisfaction so I was relegated to being chased around the house wrapped in a blanket by a four-year-old carrying a foam sword and wearing a cowboy hat. This, even my wife must concede, was an activity that Heath found impressive and worthy of repeating…much to my own amusement.
I am, however, very fond of silliness with my sons.
Being raised in a house where there would never be a time when I could not exercise my right to be downright goofy while playing and having a father who modeled the appropriateness (dare I say, the necessity?) of shamelessness when interacting with youth, I have no problem acting like a fool when my boys want to be silly.
So it was that I found myself riding through very crowded parking lots one Saturday morning after the weekly Daddy/Dude Day breakfast (or DDBD when the “Brave”, Eliott, is in attendance) listening to Arlo Guthrie’s “Motorcycle Song” at full volume; windows down and sunroof open. (You can give it a listen here.) The lyrics are simple: “I don’t want a pickle. I just want to ride on my motorcycle. I don’t want a tickle. I just want to ride on my motorcycle. And I don’t want to die. I just want to ride on my motorcy…cle”. We became “those guys”. People stared. They guided their children away from the crosswalk as we approached. I think we even got a stern, “Tsk Tsk”. Folks, here in the South, that’s about as close to the line as civilized folks can get before violence ensues.
And I realized something rather inspiring if somewhat humbling: I didn't choose the family I was born into and my family (wife, Lord help her, excluded) didn't choose me. But I’ll be darned if it doesn't all start to make sense why God puts these imperfect pieces together so perfectly when you can look a total stranger square in the eye as you roll to a stop light and yell, “I don’t want a PICKLE!!!” knowing full well you will be backed up by a pint-sized version of yourself with the accompanying, “MOTORCYCLE!!!”
So maybe I need to re-evaluate my position on pickles, tickles, and the merits of parenthood? I believe my wife would agree and I am always happier when she is happy.
Courtney holding Heath; Jordan holding Eliott