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Column: Life is like a wheel; what goes around, comes around

“Why is the sky blue, daddy?”

“I don’t know, something to do with the colors, I guess.”

“Who is the man in the moon, daddy?”

“I don’t know. Nobody; it just looks like a man.”

“What’s this, daddy?”

“I don’t know; some kind of rock, I think.”

“Why don’t people have the same color skin?”

“That’s a good question. I don’t know.”

“Daddy, what’s your favorite color?”

“I don’t know. What’s yours?”

“How come chickens have eggs instead of babies?”

“You’re sure full of questions, aren’t you?”

Is there a parent anywhere that doesn’t have a good idea of the age of the child asking the questions above? Or one who hasn’t heard the same barrage of questions?

I doubt it. I remember taking all this seriously, as a young parent. I remember trying to hang in there with quality responses to an endless barrage of what most certainly are quality questions from a child’s point of view.

I also remember about how long I lasted, too, when I was tired or pressured or busy or, or, or. I didn’t last long enough. I didn’t always do my best at the question-answer game. That’s probably just one of the parent games I didn’t do my best at.

When I was doing my best, it went like this:

“What’s inside a baseball, daddy?”

“Well, there’s a little town full of little people, and when someone hits it with a bat, they all get upset and run around, and that’s why a baseball goes so far.”

Obviously, these sorts of answers eventually led to the same end result: I wasn’t able to make up stuff fast enough.

Life is like a wheel. What goes around comes around. It surely does, positively, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be aware of the irony of it coming around, even if you are indeed aware that it came around at all.

Most of us miss the second turn of the wheel, the one that brings around the things we’ve done and said and the things that other people have done and said to us. We’re too busy, too dense, too preoccupied to often notice that, as my mom used to say, “The shoe’s on the other foot, now, isn’t it?” And then she’d ask me how it felt. I hated that. It never felt too good.

Then, next thing you know, the kids are teenagers, and, as we all know, teenagers make excellent spinners of wheels. They spin your own shortcomings and inconsistencies back at you.

The fact that I spotted the teenager wheel bringing past shortcomings back around worries me, because there are probably thousands of other wheels that I’ve given a spin, back up the road. They’re waiting for me. Or, even worse, they’re all around me, and I haven’t become aware of them yet.

So I asked the teenager: “Where are you and your friends going tonight?”

“I don’t know. No place.”

“Who’s driving?”

“I don’t know, somebody.”

“How was school today?”

“I don’t know. Some kind of boring, I guess.”

“What’s the most boring part of school?”

“That’s a good question. I don’t know.”

“What do your friends think about the high price of gas and the war?”

“I don’t know. What do you think about it?”

“How’s your algebra coming?”

“I don’t know. The same, I guess. Whatever.”

“How was the basketball game last night?”

“Totally. Yeah!”

“What do you think about drugs and alcohol?”

“I don’t know. Why?”

“What do your friends think about drugs and alcohol?”

“Oh, well, know.”

Life. It comes around and around and around.

Slowly but surely it’s becoming clear to me why grandparents tend to be more doting toward their grandkids than they were toward their own. They, like us, missed several of the spins of the wheel the first time around, and this time, they’re going to jump on with a passion.

You only go around one time on the wheel, strictly speaking; however, the second and third times around, you can make a pretty darned good spoke.