There’s that common platitude that “We should leave the world a better place than we found it.” That’s not very hard to do. The world is a mess. I pick up litter and feel that I just did my part. No big deal.

Then I think of more complex ways to leave the planet better. I can leave behind a better replacement human, my son, when I go.

Gabriel is 11 and I figured this process of making him a better human than me would be long and tedious. This hasn’t been the case.

Gabriel’s 11, makes almost all A’s, is in a school honor program, has taken karate for 5 years, plays the violin, takes Latin, can read and write Mandarin Chinese on a third grade level, plays tennis, build paper airplanes and now is taking drama and voice. His day is as full as Condaleza Rice’s.

As for myself, I make balls and jokes.

It just hit me, my kid is already a vastly superior human.

If someone challenges me physically, I beg. Or run.

I never made straight A’s until late in college.

I can barely order in a Chinese restaurant much less ask the owner in fluent Mandarin how his parents are doing with their retirement in Southern China.

I know no Latin, play no musical instrument and my singing is reminiscent of the noises made by a badger run over by a garden tiller.

Wow, as a human, I may as well go ahead and vacate the planet now. It’s a good thing Gabriel can’t drive yet. At least, I can operate a motor vechicle safely. Gabriel still needs me for this talent.

I took Gabriel to a roller skate party yesterday. He had only skated twice before. I remember taking him when he was about 7 and he was just awful. He seemed to inherit my total lack of grace on wheels. He clung to the wall and vaguely shuffled around the rink. Yet, he really enjoyed himself and felt that he had skated.

Personally, I am only comfortable at activities in which my body is naturally equipped at birth.. Humans are not born with wheels and thus, I do not skate. I have no wings so I prefer not to fly. I’m comfortable with activities like drinking Cola and reproduction.

Gabriel told me that he went skating one time last summer and he had even more fun than before. I told him that was “Great.” while thinking “Great, now that you’re bigger when you fall it’s more likely to cause serious injury.”

Yesterday, I reminded Gabriel that I wanted him to wear knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet. Gabriel was happy to do as I asked. However, the manager of the rink told me that they didn’t have any of that equipment. That seemed unwise, I thought in a liability way. Gabriel said he would be safe and went off to skate. Just said “Thanks” and went off to skate with the ease that I pop the top on a can of soda.

Gabriel didn’t cling to the wall. He simply skated. With ease. With comfort. With joy.

He met up with his friends on the rink and they immediately started playing “roller tag”. A game of tag while roller skating? Hell, why not play baseball while skating? You foolhardy little bastards.

Then it hit me, Gabriel is not me. He has no fear of skating. My fears are completely my own. My limitations are in my own psyche.

I decided to go over to the desk and get a pair of skates. I put them on and thought about standing. I imagined Gabriel and me skating for fun around town, whizzing along the river and city streets. Then I realized how happy I was being injury free and took the skates off.

Gabriel is Gabriel. And I’m still me.

So, I can’t skate or sing or act or speak Chinese. I happily drove Gabriel to his first voice recital after the skating rink because I’m still the one with a drivers license.

At a church, in front of strangers, with no experience but plenty of confidence, Gabriel sang “Amazing Grace”.

At the end of his performance, as I laughed and cried, I realized that I find it all amazing.


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