Friday, July 15, 2011

lessons from my father : caveman edition

Some of my most memorable lessons from growing up come directly from my Dad. The lessons he taught always seemed to have a visual component and I am quite sure he had not read about them in any modern parenting how-to book.

Growing up I was tall. Very, very tall. I currently stand somewhere in the neighborhood of a bit over 5’9”. This is not an absurd height for a girl, I have met some* people taller in my life, but I have been this tall since I was 11. That is a very long time to be very tall. Especially when all the other girls are all petite and small. I was taller than all the boys up until the end of high school when they finally grew. When I was in the 5th grade, I was the tallest person in the entire school. The WHOLE school. That includes the kids, the teachers, the principals, the librarian and perhaps even the custodial staff. As you may imagine being tall (taller than everyone in the whole world it felt like at the time) doesn't exactly make you self assured and confident. Looking back I realize I was also gangly and awkward. Oh my goodness, I was awkward. A quick shuffle through old pictures reminds me my awkward phase stuck along quite a bit longer than I care to let my husband know. I have an image to uphold after all! I also dressed like a boy. I don't know why I did this. My guess is boy pants came in lengths so I could get them long enough though they were inevitably always too loose and baggy. I was a vision in ill fitting khakis and a boyish shirt I hoped and prayed I would someday fill out with the lovely lady lumps I wished for each day.

*I should note, for accuracy sake, there are many people in the world taller than me. For example, my whole life my Dad has always been taller than me.

Sometime in my early teen years (I assume when I was awkward, because let's face it, that was most of the time) I would try and slouch to make myself seem shorter. I thought no one would realize I was standing like Quasimodo or suffering in a permanent squat-plie position. They would simply think to themselves… "My, my that Jessica is a perfectly average height girl. Though, she does dress like a boy". Standing with this absurd posture would make me “normal” sized and thus as popular as the sisters from Sweet Valley High and I would have endless date invites to the dances. This didn't really work as planned. While my peers never mentioned my odd way of standing (though I am sure they thought I suffered from some sort of muscular disorder) my family did and let me know it was not very becoming or attractive.

When you are a teenager you feel everyone is looking at you and judging you at all times. Later in life you learn that this is simply not true. Everyone is too concerned with their own pimples, what is happening with the Sweet Valley High sisters, what *NSYNC video is going to be playing on TRL that afternoon and other various teenage maladies to really pay much attention to you. Around this time my dad took the time to share with me, his oldest daughter and pride and joy that he had a growing concern I walked like a caveman.

You may think that my walking like a caveman had something to do with my attempts to shrink myself through terrible posture. Nope, this caveman walk was a completely separate disorder I suffered from and a whole new can of worms. As it turns out, unbeknownst to me, when I would walk to and fro (presumably dreaming about ponies, how to become BFFs with Britney Spears, and how awesome my life would be when I finally grew boobies) I would swing my arms in such a way that the back of my hand and thus my knuckles would point forward.

Have you ever taken into consideration how you swing your hands when you walk? You may not have until this point, perhaps walking like a regular human comes naturally to you. Consider yourself lucky. However, now you will most likely become acutely aware of how you and others' swing their extremities while walking. Here is the short version of the lesson for those growing impatient… knuckles forward = caveman, thumbs facing forward = walking like a lady. Ask Kate Middleton, she's obviously got this all figure out.

My Dad took the time as a caring and concerned father to show me the way I walked (like a caveman with knuckles dragging) versus the desired lady-like or modern human way to walk (back straight and erect, thumbs naturally facing forward). At the time I was humiliated. No wonder all of my life long dreams hadn't come true yet at the ripe age of 15! I had no idea how to walk! From there on out I would consciously (and I am quite sure pretty obviously) make an effort to walk properly.

Right, left, right, left… thumbs forward, thumbs forward… should my thumbs be sticking out independent of my hand? Make a fist and have thumb face forward? Is that like hitch hiking? I like glitter. I wonder what’s for dinner. How can I make my hair more shiny? Keep walking! Thumbs forward!

I am sure this was a hard thing to approach me about. How do you tell your awkward, overly emotional daughter she walks like a caveman? Though it was a difficult lesson to swallow, I am very thankful for it. I am proud to say I no longer walk like a caveman. At least I don’t believe I do. Thumbs forward, thumbs forward, thumbs forward is part of my daily mantra along with don’t trip.

I am quite certain my lady-like walk helped me progress from my teenage years, make friends, become a fairly successful adult and eventually get a husband. I am pretty sure when my husband sees me walk through Target throwing stuff in our cart we don’t need on one of our adventures he thinks…”wow, I am the luckiest man in the world. I married a girl who walks like a lady, not a caveman”. Lesson learned Dad, lesson learned.

1 comment:

  1. TOO FUNNY!! Caveman walking!!

    I'm aware of what I look like when I walk. I'm about 5'10 and have broader when I see myself walking from behind I feel like I look like a linebacker. BAHAHA!!