I talked to my mom on Mother’s Day and I told her I’d spent half that day putting a new water pump on the 1991 Volvo 740 Turbo Wagon. “I didn’t know you knew how to do things like that,” she said in a way that I’m sure was meant to imply that, while she finds me impressively intelligent and resourceful, she just didn’t know I knew how to put that exact part on that exact model Volvo. And I blew it off in a manner that could convey, “Of course I do. I do it all the time.” But I don’t do it all the time, unless you count “all the time” being Sunday and then again on Tuesday, because that’s what I did today, I removed the water pump and then re-installed it. The good news is that while it took me four hours Sunday, it only took me two today, so my pit crewing dream is within reach I feel. The bad news is that the water pump still leaks. Still. Leaks. So I give up, the Swedes have won this one. Idioten.
In recognition of this defeat at the mittened hands of the Swedish, we’re going to have to look into alternate modes of transportation here at Castilo Urf!. To that end, C learned to ride his bike tonight. I realize that he’s too old to just now be learning, but that’s the way we roll here. Ha! I took him to the park to teach him how to ride a while back and what we both learned from that afternoon was that he inherited my patience. Or lack thereof. We left the park that day without speaking to each other. I would like to say that I put him on his bike this evening, explained the principles of balance, the physics of motion, and pushed him gently until he shakily, though confidently, rode away from me and down the block. But that’s not quite how it happened. Sure, I took his bike from storage in the garage and cleaned it, aired up the tires, adjusted the seat and oiled the chain. And then I went down to the neighbor’s house for a beer. While standing out front, talking with neighbors, C came riding down the sidewalk towards us. How about that? He’s self-taught! And with plenty of practice time left before the 2019 Tour de France.
I wish I could say I was a better mechanic and had fixed up the Volvo. I wish I could say I was a better father and that I taught my son how to ride a bike. Fortunately, I can say I’m a pretty good neighbor because I happily drank the can of light beer offered to me. But cheap beer won’t get me to work or these kids to school. Nor will it teach my children skill or independence. But what they may learn from the past couple of days is that if you are ready to tackle a project, if you really put your mind to it, then you can do whatever you want. Unless what you want to do is to stop a water pump from leaking. Or say no to free beer.