The other day, as I was putting on a pair of dress shoes using my grandfather’s shoe horn, I became aware of the life lessons that were involved in that action. It had never occurred to me, but how many little things had I learned from my father that were passed down to him, and that, in turn, I had passed down to my own children.
I know that perhaps a shoe horn is a silly example of “life lessons”. But it is one of those little things that someone taught us how to make life a bit easier and preserve those things that through such actions. After 20 years of being a Dad, I have come to realize that parenting is not about big actions or important moments. But it is about the small, inconsequential, things that we share with our children and that were shared with us growing up. Little things like, how to sweep the floor, how to put on a tie, changing a tire on the car, when to say please and thank you and yes, how to use a shoe horn.
Could we have figured out how to do these things ourselves? Most probably yes. But we, along with those before us, tried to have us learn from the traveled road to help us become better at living life.
Taken each of the above by it’s own, these are important things to know. But when we were asked to help load the dishwasher, did our parents think “this is an important lesson”? I doubt it. They wanted us to participate in the house or do things that at some point were shared with them. And back to that shoe horn, was it meant to be a lesson? There was no magic, no special sauce. Just a “hey, try this…”
Now that I am (gulp) over 50, do I know when my Dad shared with me how to put on dress shoes? Nope, not a clue. Do I remember telling my boys how and when to do the same? Still no. But as I sat there that day putting on my shoes, I realized all of the history that was involved in that action. I don’t even know how I ended up with my grandfather’s shoe horn. I have no doubt that my grandfather would think it was silly for me to not only use his shoe horn, but to sit here and write about it. And that is what makes it special. That a small trivial item could help create such a strong memory.