Lessons For Me and Them by Laura Houston
I keep a running list of thoughts for Lyle and Wyatt that contains little bits of wisdom I want to share with them. In truth the list I started was really more for me, because I wanted the boys to have a record of what I value, and I want to remember, as well. This past weekend I took first place in the Queens County Arm Wrestling Championship on a fluke. The entire day was a series of lessons and experiences I want to share.
Diversions Along The Way: Sometimes on your journey, something unexpected happens that leads to something wonderful. On our venture to and from the Queens County Fair we had to take subways and buses and trains and taxis. It was a long trip, and we ran into many obstacles on the way: the first subway stop to the fair was closed, so we had to take another subway line and then switch again. When we finally got on the subway we were happy to see an empty car where we could all sit down, but as it turns out, there was a very sick man in the car. We had to get off the subway and wait for another train, and it took almost an extra hour to get to the fair. However, there was a reason we were delayed.
Be Nice To Everyone: When we finally got to Queens, we had trouble getting the big stroller on the bus. A big man with dread locks helped us get you guys and all of our gear up the steps and in position, and he helped us get you guys comfortable. His name was Big Dave. He had bad teeth and scarred skin. He must have weighed over 250 pounds. We started talking to him and his girlfriend. As it turns out, they were going to the fair, too. Big Dave used to be a champion arm wrestler, and he was going to compete. He asked us to come watch him. We said we would.
Indulge Once in a While: I don’t let you guys eat a lot of junk. I try not to eat a lot of junk either, but at the fair anything goes, so we had chili cheese fries and funnel cakes for lunch. Then you guys had some milk, and I had a beer. My stomach didn’t feel so good, so we walked around some and danced to a big band comprised of men and women over 60. That’s another lesson. You’re never too old to make other people laugh and love you for what you do. We kept moving until I felt better, and we ended up at the arm wrestling contest.
If You Say You’re Going To Be There, Be There: We stood around and waited for Big Dave to get up and compete. We cheered for him, and he came over to say thank you. Then the announcer asked if any females wanted to compete against GiGi from the Bronx.
Be Fearless: Your father told me I should compete. I laughed at him. But then there I was at the judge’s table signing a form. It would be fun, I thought. Why not? At least I might get a certificate and a story to tell you some day. The woman I had to compete against was 25 years old, tall, black, and had bright white teeth. She also had some powerful looking arms. I shook her hand and told her I was your mother, and I wanted to have some fun.
Big Dave came over and thanked us again for our support and then he coached me on how to win at arm wrestling. I practiced for five minutes and then it was time to compete.
Life Happens Fast: I got up on the stand in front of the crowd and waved to you guys and your father. People were yelling. Then I faced off with GiGi from the Bronx. I did what Big Dave told me to do. I pulled instead of pushed. I kept my wrist locked. I went from the word “go.” In 20 seconds I had her pinned, and I took first place. None of the other women wanted to go again, so it was over as fast as it had begun.
Being There Brings Good Fortune: Opportunities and invitations are often the keys that open doors to happiness. Ask yourself, is it safe? Is it kind? And if the answer to both is yes, then go enjoy something different. Have an adventure and add the story to your collection. When I took the stage across from GiGi, I didn’t care if I won or lost. I just wanted to have fun. I thought about what Big Dave coached me to do, I took a big breath, and I won. That’s all it took. Sometimes all you have to do is show up and you win.