It’s funny how the mundane becomes special. If not special, at the very least, important.
For my son and I, one of those things is a broken piece of sidewalk a block or so from our house where a tree’s roots have simply overgrown and broken through the sidewalk. To be honest, I don’t know exactly how or when it became special and which one of us made it so. Initially, for me anyway, it may be something that stems from the OCD in my family. Right or wrong, good or bad, it’s become a part of ‘the me’ that has to do with my son and our relationship. It’s crazy how this silly piece of concrete has taken hold in our minds and hearts and bodies that it will likely become one of those things that we’ll look back on with fondness and remember as one of our father-son bonds. I can hear it now: “Hey, Dad. Remember that rock?” or “Son, you were so full of energy. Do you remember jumping off that broken pavement near our house every time we walked Bauer?” That silly piece of damaged concrete has become so meaningful to us that we’ve worried that it’ll get repaired one day and our rock and our ritual and our bonding will be lessened somehow. (I happened to talk about our rock with a neighbor recently, without giving away its meaning to me, and he reassured me that it’ll not likely get repaired because fixing that part of the sidewalk would involve uprooting the tree and that’s not likely going to happen anytime soon because the roots are so big. Phew.)
Every time we walk by it, usually when we’re walking the dog, we have to touch it. I step on it with my right foot when we’re walking away from home and with my left on the return leg. Even when I’m alone walking to my son’s school to pick him up or walking the dog without him, I still touch it.
My son and I have other meaningful things that come from everyday events and rituals that have taken on special meaning. To some people they would seem ridiculous. Others, meanwhile, might relate because they have their own special mundanities. The best part of this rock thing is that it just happened and evolved into what it is. I think that’s important. It’s important to have those quirky bonds with people, especially family members and children. Children often see adults as those bigger versions of themselves who are often grumpy, loud, are always serious and, basically, no fun at all. We’re also their heroes simply because we’re older and can do things they can’t yet do or know things they don’t yet know. Through things like this, my son gets to see a side of me that’s real, even vulnerable. As an older dad (I’m nearing 49 and my son is only 9), my son will remember, long after I’m gone, that we had a relationship and that it was goofy and fun and creative even though his dad was aging, beyond his prime, and busted up while never giving up in trying to get to where he wanted to get to and becoming who he wanted to be. In turn, my son will, hopefully, develop an even closer relationship with his own children. While doing so, if he can spare a moment to remember his own dad, maybe he can share that relationship with me too.