This last Friday, I had the chance to travel to a Chicago Cubs game with my father, my brother, and my nephew. It was something that was very rare for me, a spontaneous moment where I put something before my time in school. Like most teachers, I hate being out of the classroom, but this was one of those times where I knew I needed to go. My father’s 72 years old and who knows how many more experiences like this will be offered up to us? Plus, it just gave me a time to have a look at my family dynamics and think about who does what and where it all comes from. Riding together for eight hours, spending another four hours at Wrigley Field, it gives a guy a lot of time to be reflective on family and who we are.
I have always been the quiet one of the family. I’m the one who tends to sit back, watch what goes on around, and talk only when I truly need to. My father has the gift of gab. He can walk into a room of strangers and walk out with a new friend. His father, my grandfather was very much the same way. Grandpa was in the antique business and worked a lot of flea markets. I was able to travel with him and watch as he’d deal 50 ax handles for 5 sets of wrenches, then turn those sets of wrenches into cash, more than what he’d paid for the ax handles he started with. I’ve watched my own father wheel and deal when we’ve had garage sales or worked at auctions. My brother has this same gift. He works as a physical therapist at the VA hospital in Iowa City and has that ability to talk with anyone. I’ve seen him in action before in different settings, and he and my father are much more alike then either wants to admit! 🙂
Me, I’m like my mom, soft spoken, quiet, and relatively inconspicuous in large groups of people. I prefer a smaller, more intimate setting where I can learn about someone, feel more comfortable with them, and be able to express myself a little more freely. I’ve always found it uncomfortable when presented with a large group of people I don’t know, and tend to shift myself to a position where I can see a lot, but don’t have interact as much. I’ve never had that boisterous, outgoing personality, but as people will tell you, if I’m comfortable with you, I’m still quiet! 🙂
As I watch my daughters, it’s interesting the traits we see in them that we see in ourselves. Gabrielle and I are very much alike. She too is very quiet, almost painfully so until you get to know her. It’s funny how teachers talk of her sense of humor, her dry wit, as if you didn’t pay attention, you’d never notice that it was there. Faith has that gift of gab as well. She gets that from both sides of the family, because my wife has that ability, and her father had that ability time ten. Faith can walk into a crowd and come out with a friend, something that has always amazed me about her. She’s fearless in that respect, although I know that new situations make her uncomfortable as well. She also wears her emotions on her sleeve. You never have to wonder about Faith and what she’s feeling as it’s right out there for all to see. Her mother isn’t quite that forthright with her emotions, but both have very passionate personalities! 🙂 Gabrielle and I, you have to pick at us to reveal what we are thinking because we keep those emotions and feelings to ourselves.
I’m writing this as my students are writing, both to be a good role model on getting words on a page and to get my thoughts down too. I swear I’ve changed this draft a half dozen times, and I know students are questioning what the heck I’m doing (it’s good to for them to see the writing process in full effect!). But it’s more than just that. Sometimes, it just nice to reflect on where you’ve come from. Going to the game, watching my dad, brother, and nephew laugh and interact with each other, it just gives me a better idea of who we all are.
And along with being reflective, it gave me a chance head back to Wrigley, a place where some awesome memories have been made! 🙂