The other day I was advancing a theory that, just as some people of African descent are genetically predisposed to be better runners (something about short-twitch muscles vs. long-twitch; I think the short-twitch are better for short runs, but don’t quote me on the science), people of Asian descent are predisposed to be good at tennis, baseball, and other sports requiring both amazing hand-eye coordination and the ability to go from zero to sixty in minimal time, often displaying reserves of strength belied by their stature. My ideas are, of course, entirely unscientific and based on the fact that both Michael Chang and Ichiro Suzuki possess these qualities, as does my father, who, despite an exercise program of lifting the remote and occasionally flagging waiters, will cheerfully lay down the tureen of foie gras and cigar he’s been nursing for the last thirty years to whip your lily ass at the sport of your choosing (as long as it’s not running) anytime you say.
I have long bemoaned the fact that I seem to have gotten only half this coordination, specifically from the waist up, from the author of my days, the gweizi half of my heritage having taken over my legs to the point where I am constantly bruised and battered by doorjambs, stairs, and the ground rushing up to meet me. I can catch like a pro, but it wouldn’t do me any good on the field, since I would immediately fall all over myself trying to tag a player out. In basketball, I was the middle school free-throw champ, but anything that involved having to move and dribble at the same time inevitably resulted in disaster. Once, when purchasing a tour of the Coors Brewing Company in Golden, Colorado, I demonstrated this strange conflict of coordination by catching the digital camera my companion had knocked off the counter in midair while simultaneously signing the credit card slip, then promptly stowing the camera, tripping over a velvet rope, and performing a faceplant in the lobby. Which prompted said companion to remark, “How is that you could make that catch when you can’t even walk?”
Welcome to my life, I replied.
So it’s unknown how much of the Asian coordination, not to mention Spidey strength, my offspring will inherit. One can only hope the strains of quicksilver grace that manifest themselves in my near-bionic arms will continue, untainted, while the strains of massive incompetence in my legs will be canceled out by some other ingredient in the genetic soup. And I have hope for the former. Why?
Because yesterday, my child, a wee two and perhaps 26 lb., pushed over an entire Playskool ™ play kitchen. And not one of the more streamlined recent models, but a massive, five-foot-long, mid-eighties model that has got to weigh at least triple what he does. And this tiny person, bearer of the Torch of My Gene Pool, pushed it over with one hand. On another child who happened to be passing by. What are the odds? That’s a split-second maneuver! Think of the finesse required!
Now, normally I would be appalled to learn that my child had caused another to be pinned under 70 lb. of plastic homemaking delight. But the child in question is not only the biggest bully, the pushingest, hittingest, in-your-facest bruiser, at the entire preschool, but apparently had been more than usually aggressive all morning. We’ve taught our kid that hitting is not OK, pushing is not OK, and people who hit and push are obviously sad, emotionally stunted creatures who will get theirs and that we neither condone nor tolerate their behavior, and I guess he took at least that last part seriously, because my usually mild-mannered child, the smallest kid in the bunch, decided to upend the Kitchen of Retribution on his ass.
Yup, little punk. The Arm of Justice cometh down upon you, and it is called 赵.
Naturally, I’m not congratulating my junior avenger on his feat. I tried, responsibly, to discuss the events of the day with him, see what he had to say about it, to ask non-leading questions that would allow him to air his fears and emotions. And this is what I got:
“A crazy wild gnome came and took my pumpkin! He took it away! He went and hid in the backyard! That crazy wild gnome was giant! He knocked over the kitchen on [name redacted]!”
I considered calling him on the alter ego/gnome business. But I really believe you should encourage children to develop their imagination, you know?
And besides, as my boy just informed me, “The gnome is very nice.”