I recently met up with my very pregnant sister for lunch during which she recounted the story of a recent shopping trip. My parents are buying her a pram as a new baby present and so went along to check out the prams and, after a few stops, my sister, her partner, and my Mum all start to feel some shopping fatigue. But not my Dad as it turns out he was the most excited of them all about this purchase.
This doesn’t surprise me at all. These days, prams are wonderful pieces of clever design allowing them to be multi-year, multi-use items; they are in every essence a clever gadget with lots of clever features. Designed to be operated with one hand, they have to be light enough for Mum, convert from car seat to crib to stroller, have storage for baby stuff and … I dunno, they are probably bluetooth and wifi enabled as well these days (actually the bluetooth one isn’t so bad, soothing music for the baby?).
Because I inherited a very similar gadget lust from him, it’s easy for me to imagine my Dad enjoying the process of viewing and comparing the features to make sure they got the best pram available. I’d do exactly the same as it’s what I tend to do with any purchase; Outside of food, clothes, and art, I tend to research most things that I buy to make sure I am getting the best option for my money.
The depth of my research varies, so when I replace my TV next year I know I’ll spend a lot of time on that, and for that I’ll revert to another inherited trait. The List (that capital L is very important).
I used to mock – actually I still do – my Mum for her use of Lists as she lives by them. Fast forward and today I’m the same, I am a heavy list user except these days I control mine electronically.
My Mum has stuck with paper and has her own specific way of working through her lists and woe betide you if you get it wrong!
Mum was recently in hospital for a couple of days (she’s fine, back home now!) and so my Dad rounded up the Christmas Card list (which is an item on a larger Christmas list of course). The card list has each person/family on a separate line, with a checkbox drawn next to it.
So my Dad wrote out Christmas cards, stuck address labels on envelopes (remember, he’s the gadget/tech guy) so they were ready for sending, and as he wasn’t sure on a couple of them he left them unchecked in the list.
He mentioned this to Mum and she asked if he’d marked the list properly. Unable to resist I asked ‘what do you mean properly?’.
Apparently for a two stage process you have to use the checklist PROPERLY. That means when you write a card you draw one diagonal line in the checkbox – from top left to bottom right (I shit you not, she was very specific on that) – and when the card is in the correctly addressed envelop you complete the X by drawing the other diagonal (from top right to bottom left for those playing along at home).
My suggestion of just using squiggles or circles earned me a punch on the arm.
That said, it’s a smart way to do it and, sitting at work I look at my own notebook where I capture actions and questions from meetings – checkboxes for something I need to do, question marks for things I need to think about – and it’s no great surprise that I am struck by just how much I am my parents son.
Which is a comforting thought in many ways, and not just because I’m 6′ tall and both my parents are below 5’8 (there have been times I’ve wondered…).
As I grow older I find myself seeing more and more of myself in my parents, a happy hybrid of both. I look at them and wonder how I will be when I reach their age and realise that I don’t really care. I don’t imagine I’ll change all that much from here on out, I’ve made my peace with who I am, and I guess I’m just happy that this apple fell from some pretty incredible trees.