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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Originally published March 13, 2009

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

Some of what I’ve learned as a parent reminds me of the algebra I learned as a kid. I don’t think I’ll have much use for it in the future.

First, there’s my extensive knowledge of trucks. I’ve read every picture book about trucks ever written, because of my 3-year-old son’s passion for trucks. It’s not the light fare you might think. Many books go to great pains to detail the types, parts and operation of trucks. Now I can effortlessly explain the different equipment on a fire engine or the workings of a piston engine, all at the drop of a gasket.

I’ve also read stories about ducks that drive trucks and cats that drive trucks, not to mention a spotted salamander that drives one too. Whenever a truck drives by me these days, I always look twice.

What I haven’t picked up from books, I’ve learned from my preschooler who is an unerring teacher. When I wrongly name a truck on the road, he corrects me. “That’s a digger, not a scooper.”

I’ve also learned a thing or two about digging in the sport of volleyball, given my teenage daughter plays in a volleyball league. Digging refers to the technique of passing the ball with your forearms. To do it right, you must contact the ball in the middle of your body, keeping your hips below the ball.

Digging can be harder than it sounds, considering your opponents aren’t all that concerned with hitting the ball to you in just the right spot. Some times, it requires some pretty fancy footwork, which replays later in your head while you sleep, sort of like when you try swing dancing for the first time. Although I’m not the one playing volleyball, I wake up some mornings feeling as if I danced the night away.

At night, the facts of famous people’s lives also dance around my head, especially when I’m having trouble sleeping. I blame my ten-year-old daughter who has a keen interest in biographies of people from the past. Whenever she’s caught up in someone’s life, she feels compelled to share it. “Did you know George Washington Carver invented over 300 things made from peanuts?”

I’m not sure what to do with all this miscellaneous knowledge that comes to me through my kids. There are moments I think I could put it to good use. Maybe I could actually fix someone’s truck or someone’s volleyball game. Then I consider the fact that there’s probably a lot I don’t know and, instead of helping, I could end up making a mess of things.

Yep, there are real pitfalls to thinking you know more than you do. I learned that in a book I read about a duck that drives a truck.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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