By Joe Rector
I am an expert at, well, everything. At least that’s what my wife and kids tell me. On so many occasions throughout the year, I’ve had to straighten them out on a multitude of issues. Those whom I love so much have been misguided souls at times, and it was my duty to enlighten them and show them the error of their ways. I’ve reached beyond family boundaries and shared my expertise with others who didn’t even know that they were in need of it.
During my dear daughter’s teen years, my wealth of knowledge came in discussions of ancient history. I found myself lecturing Lacey on the fall of past civilizations for their failure to overcome personal wants and needs. For the longest time, she held her tongue, but at some point I must have begun repeating myself. She looked at me with wide eyes, attempted to smother a snicker, and then burst into laughter. “Daddy, it’s just a thumb ring!” The poor child just couldn’t see the connection between that piece of jewelry and the crumpling of an entire society.
Poor Dallas suffered through years of my coaching him in baseball. It was necessary to school the boy in the proper methods of fielding, hitting, and pitching. All of this came from my vast knowledge of the sport. Forget the fact that I was stuck in right field, the place for the worst player, throughout my child. I forced him to practice endlessly to develop skills I never had.
When he began driving, I instructed him on the proper way to drive a straight-shift vehicle. With just a minimal amount of training, I figured my son could be the next great driver. What happened instead was that he bowed his back and, in his passive-aggressive may, put an end to my goals for him by not studying for the driver’s exam. He failed the test, but I was much more disappointed than he was.
Amy has listened to my tirades on so many subjects. They’ve included finances, business decisions, and child-rearing strategies. Most of the time she’s listen, but on occasion she has cocked one eyebrow and dropped a sarcastic “Really” on me.
My greatest expertise came on the subject of child rearing. Oh, I knew what all kids needed and when they needed it. I’d taught school forever, so I was an authority on children, or so I thought. My pronouncements about parenting came with a thunderous voice. The only trouble was that I’d roared so much and so often that Amy knew it was all bluff, and she ignored my demands. In spite of my actions, Lacey and Dallas appear to be well-adjusted individuals who aren’t too scarred by my great knowledge.
I’ve also voiced my opinions in groups, at work, and with friends over the years. I might have couched it with the phrase, “If it were me, I’d…,” and then I would tell the truth of all things according to my perception of the situation. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, if folks would do as I tell them, their lives would be much better. More accurately, I was saying that folks who follow my lead and do as I do would be happy.
Most of the time, I’ve expressed my opinion and then sat down unaware that absolutely no one in my family heeded an iota of the wisdom that was offered. My friends politely pretend to listen to my sage advice. Then they call me a dirty name and ignore all my wisdom.
In recent years, the fact that I wasn’t always right has become apparent. I can see how my expertise on all subjects has been little more than my personal opinion, and we all know what opinions are like and what they resemble in smell. Maybe the greatest tidbit of wisdom that I’ve discovered from my years on this planet is that I’m nowhere near as right as I once thought.
For those of you whom I have approached with unwanted information and suggestions, I apologize for my ignorance. Also, thank you for remaining my friends and loving family, even though doing so has been a difficult task.