Retired friends and the latest from Keegan
So I was talking to my retired college classmate yesterday, and he asked me to tell him a funny K-Man story. This friend prefers to talk only so long as I have something entertaining to convey. He checks this site regularly and gives me grief when nothing new is posted. (If you click on the Visitors map below, this friend is the red dot in the middle of the U.S. He will tell you that location is representative of the fact that Omaha is the heart of this great country — but I think he secretly thinks that location is representative of the fact that he thinks the world revolves around him. Only kidding DA.) That said, I also think he thinks it is my responsibility to ensure that he has something to do during his retirement.
He’s “retired” from two prestigious careers. First, he audited public companies for a Big 4 accounting firm (not sure there are still 4 “big” accounting firms anymore, but you get the picture). I think the highlights of that first career were the week-long stays in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he resided at the Red Roof Inn, went to work each day auditing a large utility company, hoarded the per diem, watched the City’s snow plows pile up snow in the RRI parking lot, and waited for the mounds to melt sometime in late May.
After leaving the glamorous life of public accounting, my friend went to work with a law school classmate of his at his family’s small general practice firm in downtown Omaha. I think the highlights of that career were almost getting run over by a judge while walking to the courthouse — the same judge before whom he would be appearing some 20 minutes after the near miss; and of course his representation of apartment owners who were evicting their delinquent renters. Let’s see, there was the elderly woman, the disabled veteran and the single mother with 2 or 3 kids. All of whom he helped kick to the curb. That can wear on you (especially when your friend makes you feel bad about it every time he gets a chance — Edify Stupid!). I completely understand why one might retire from such work.
So in my efforts to bring some joy into my retired friend’s life, I shared with him a funny story about Keegan — which I now share with the other handful of bored folks who read this blog. Throughout the summer, the City of Smyrna — where we live — holds monthly concerts in front of the library near the Market Village. We usually bring a cooler of drinks, snacks and desserts. We buy dinner at Moe’s (“Welcome to Moe’s!“). And then we just hang out with whoever comes with us. On Saturday night, Jen walked up to the concert with some friends and with Keegan in the jogging stroller. I drove up with the cooler and the chairs. You all know about K-Man’s obsession with wheels. At the concert, Keegan wanted to play with the wheels on the jogging stroller. That was fine. But he wanted to roll the stroller. We had locked the rear wheels so Keegan wouldn’t roll the stroller onto the adjacent blankets and decimate the nice plates of cheese and hummus and glasses of chardonnay. He did not approve of our precautions. So we did what most parents do — we distracted him with something else. The kid is 17 months old. It’s not like we can reason with him about the down side of alienating a lawn full of people we don’t know just because he wants to act out his wheel obsession for the whole world to see. I guess we could. But then we’d look like those parents who try to reason with their 17-month-old kids while they continue to scream about the injustices of being 17 months old. You know the ones. The ones you glare at at Publix like — “Will you shut that screaming brat up?! How am I supposed to decide between pulp or no-pulp OJ or OJ with calcium or OJ with extra caffeine with that howling banshee splitting my eardrums?!?!” So anyway, we gave him a cookie instead and all was well.
Eventually, the crowd thinned, and K-Man remembered that the stroller was there with wheels to fondle. Having held our ground early on, we decided he’d learned his lesson so we could unlock the wheels and let him loose on humanity. This is where kids surprise you. In a twist on the wheel obsession, Keegan didn’t sit down and roll the wheels back and forth. This time, he stood up beside it and started pushing it around. We directed him towards open lawn and away from the innocent concert-goers. Then he got behind the stroller putting both hands on the side bars and pushed the stroller. Once he got the handle of it, he put his head down and started driving the stroller. Our task was to gently guide the stroller when he ran out of grass or ran into the low brick wall on one end of lawn and it was time to turn around. I say “gently guide” because like many 17-month-olds (and I imagine 17-YEAR-olds), he didn’t want my help — even though he was incapable of turning the stroller around. I had to help him without him realizing that I was helping him. God forbid he should need a hand. If he saw that I was helping him, I got that howling banshee scream like “I don’t need your $%#@& help Dad! GO AWAY! I CAN DO IT!! So for a solid 20 minutes or more, in complete darkness, K-Man pushed that stroller like it was a blocking sled at two-a-days. Back and forth across the lawn. Leaning into the stroller as he drove it from one end to the other and back again.
This is not the first time that Keegan has shown a drive like that. He does it with most things. He tries to master things. He did it with curbs. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Again and again. He did it with stairs. A few times. First with crawling up the stairs. Then with coming down the stairs backwards on his belly. Then with walking up the stairs. Finally walking down the stairs. His goal is mastery. With goals like that come frustration. But frustration about failing to master comes from a warped notion that we can master anything or be the master of anything. Aside from Jen, I am the master of nothing. HA! We are working on finding that balance between encouraging excellence while teaching Keegan to keep his frustration in perspective. And of course, at 17-months-old, he grasps those heady lessons extremely well! He usually conveys that understanding with a high-pitched, wild banshee screech!