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A while back, I talked about my son schooling me. And it seems like he’s taking the old man back to school again.

Well, it’s not like he’s teaching me any grand new lessons or anything. No, my two-year old took me back to 1992 for some remedial relearning. He reminded me of a time when I feel that, on some levels, I was a better person. A less judgmental person for sure!

By now, I’m sure you know the drill. Let’s get your time-traveling pants on!

We’re only going back to the 90′s so let’s get this party started…RIGHT!

Bonus points if you followed up with “Let’s get the party started…QUICKLY.”

Geared up? Awesome, let’s go.

Okay, the year was 1992. I had graduated high school and was working for some little home owned pizza joint. My wife and I had met and started dating, but nothing so serious as marriage or moving in together yet. (Little did I know, we would be shacking up in a few short months.) But, I’m off topic now.

The thing I liked about working at the pizza joint was that management was pretty lax. Oh, and we TOTALLY had Street Fighter II Champion Edition. And we were one of the first places in town to get it. So SUCK ON THAT BIG CHHHEEEEEZ! (Sorry, loyalties to pizza places ran hot in those days.) Did I mention that our management was lax? Yeah, because I could totally go burn quarters in the hottest fighting game around AND get paid minimum wage to do it! I know what you’re thinking…

SCOTT…WHY DID YOU EVER LEAVE THAT PLACE?!

My wife…but again, I’m off topic. Okay, regroup here…in 3..2..1…

So, I got off work one night and decided to burn a couple bucks trouncing bozos as Chun Li. (yeah yeah yeah…I know. She’s a chick. Whatevs.) And while I’m playing this kid comes in and proceeds to beat the living holy craps out of me. Now, I’m not going on about being some super awesome player, but dammit I was pretty good. And this kid beat me stupid. I’m getting pretty cheesed by this point. Now, I’m a silent gamer unless someone lands an awesome shot..then mad props where props are due. So, I’ve been complimenting this dude on his ass-kickery while we are fighting and the dumb jerk wouldn’t talk to me.

I turned to face this kid and said something. Don’t ask me what it was…the sands of time have long devoured the words. It was the gesture that I’ll never forget. He pointed to his ear and shook his head and grunted something as he mouthed “No.” So, there we were. Two people who were having a blast one minute and now we’re two people who can no longer communicate the next. I didn’t know sign language and he was only moderately good at reading lips. After trying to do some crazy gesticulations to ask him how he got so good at Street Fighter an idea struck. I ran and got a spiral notebook from my car and wrote the questions. He would read them, then proceed to show me on the game exactly what he was doing and how he was doing it. And when I did something right, he would clap me on the shoulder while grinning widely. We played for about an hour and then he asked if I wanted to come to his house.

Reluctantly, I said “Sure.”

We got to his house and he showed me all of his things and we talked via notebook for a couple more hours before I had to go. It was a truly amazing experience that my son reminded me of lo these many years later.

Okay, you can change out of those Time Traveling Parachute Pants. No really, I’m going to need them back. I don’t care if you have stuff in all of the pockets. You can empty them out. Now, where was I? Oh yes.

My son. Today we went to Dinosaur World. Again. I know, he just LOVES the place and we have an annual pass. You know, free fun is more fun, right? He was running around the playground like a wild hooligan and as fate would have it, so was some other little boy. Granted this kid was a couple years older than my son, but they didn’t seem to mind. They ran around playing chase by the slides and having an absolute blast. Then, the little boy left. And my son comes to me and wants me to play with him. Which is hard right now as my back has been killing me. So we played with some blocks for a bit.

Then the kid comes back. My son lights up and chases after him. They run around the Dino-slide some more and that’s when I notice it. This little boy doesn’t speak a lick of English. I believe he was speaking Italian. But who cares, right? He could have been yelling in Swahili and they would have had just as much fun. Before he had to leave, I was able to snap one shot of them together.

Scotty Schrier: Learn as we teach

My son was trying to teach him English. ‘Truck! Truck driving!’

My son was pointing to the highway that runs by Dinosaur World. He was telling the little boy about the trucks that are really noisy when they drive by. The other boy’s dad said something and with no fanfare the little boy hopped down and ran to his family. And they left. My son got down from the slide to follow him but realized they were leaving and said “Bye Bye.”

The little boy called back “Ciao!”

My son said, “Bye bye.” again…this time a little quieter.

He lowered his head and began to walk away when the little boy broke from his mom and dad and ran back. He gave my son a giant hug and a kiss on his cheek and said, “Bye Bye.” It was such a raw experience, it brought me to tears. My son reminded me that we can have fun with people who aren’t like us at all. He reminded me that sometimes the biggest barriers we have to overcome are the ones that are within us.

How different would your life be if you were able to experience it on such an unguarded, unbiased, non-judgmental and open level? I experienced it once…a long time ago. And now I’ve lived long enough to know that once isn’t enough.

My son…still taking his old man to school.

This story is reposted with permission from Scotty Schrier at Dads Who Change Diapers, and also appeared in the book Child-Like Leadership: The Powerful Lessons We Learn from Our Kids by Rich Bishop