A Father's Journal / Stretching the point on flexibility
I was driving a minivan on vacation with four screaming children in the back and my adult niece, Elizabeth, riding shotgun. The children were hungry and they unanimously agreed on a fast food restaurant in the distance. As the driver (and payer), I vetoed it. My niece wanted to know why.
"It's a divided road and that restaurant is on the left. You can choose any place on the right" I said.
"You know what? You're not very flexible"
"I am too flexible. Just pick any restaurant on the right."
"See, that's what I'm talking about. You are not flexible"
"It's too hard to get over to the other side. Pick one on this side."
My niece could not let it go. Talk about being inflexible. After we ate -- at a place on the right side -- she kept harping on my inflexibility. I pointed out that I let her sleep until 7:15 that morning. As opposed to the normal 7:00. Showing my flexibility.
"You order the same things with the same `no onions and mustard' on everything"
"That's not inflexible. That is called knowing what I like, and knowing what I dislike.
She knew about my lunch habits. Once a week I walk into a Chinese restaurant near work and order the same thing. I have done it for a few years, so the front counter person puts in my order without me having to say a single word about my fairly complex order of likes and dislikes. I look it as a positive. My niece sees it as a negative.
My whole family knows my likes and dislikes. Anyone can order for me at any restaurant. My daughters and wife can predict my reaction to just about any situation. I look at this as a positive. They say children of alcoholics and those with with psychological disorders don't know their parents reaction, and that can causes fear and low self esteem. I'm not that volatile. There are a few things that send me off. Everyone knows what they are. I've actually written them down.
If someone were stalking me, they would get bored really quickly. I go to the same job at the same time every day. My hobbies are kayaking, karate and going to Barnes and Noble to read in one of the few comfortable chairs.
My niece's words were bouncing around my head. So when my wife Laura asked if anyone wanted to go to yoga with her my first reaction was no. My second reaction was also no. Then my wife insisted that one of us should go with her because it was part of the vacation package and it was free. I was tempted. Everyone knows I like free things. I thought my 14-year-old daughter Caroline should keep my wife company. Caroline kept insisting she didn't want to go. I finally agreed to stretch out of my comfort zone and attend class with Laura. I turned to my daughters and said, "I am taking one for the team here," and then trudged off behind my wife.
Yoga was harder than I thought. First we did 20 "Sun Salutations," which is I guess greeting the sun at 5:30 p.m. while in an interior room. I had greeted the sun earlier in the day. The instructor kept saying "one more." Then a few later he would say "one more" again. That bothered me. The clock on the wall also bothered me. We had to meet our daughters at 6:30 for dinner. They stopped serving dinner at 7. We built up our stretches until finally we got to the lotus position at 6:32 p.m. without the "warm down" time that I knew was coming.
But my wife said I did surprising well for a big guy who had never done it before and who kept starring at the clock. I did OK with the flexibility part. I was even more flexible than my wife. The class did limber me up.
Will I do it again? Probably not. But now I will let the kids eat at the restaurant on the north side of the road. As long as it's a right turn.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reach at: email@example.com