Even at 16, I can recall watching The Cosby Show thinking, I want to be a calm, cool, collected dad like Cliff Huxtable. I had a Cliff/Theo moment with my 13-year-old son recently after he had an inordinate number of gaffes within a 24-hour period.
I picked my son up from school the other day, and we talked on the way to pick his sister up from her campus. I asked him how he felt about a test he’d taken, and if he was ready for his test on the following day. He quickly realized he left his study guide at home. Somehow, this jogged his memory that he also forgot a shirt he needed at home as well. We made arrangements to stop by the house so he could pick up his things. We pulled into the drive after stopping to pick up a set of house keys from his mother. Moments later emerged from the house, and I pulled into the street headed to take the keys back to her.
“Where are we going, dad?” he asked noticing we’d turned a different direction than the one we usually take.
“We’re taking the keys back to your mom,” I replied.
“Oh. Uh. I left them at the house,” he meekly offered with a deer-in-the-headlight look from the back seat of the vehicle.
So, we turned around and headed back to retrieve the keys. An hour had passed by the time we got to the house, and I offered my help in studying. He assured me that he had gone back to get his study guide because it was an open-book test. However, the next morning, as we were driving to school, I asked about his study guide. Yep, it was MIA. I asked about his shirt. Uh huh, AWOL too. So, went through the whole retrieval process again.
I didn’t want to ride his case, but my nonverbals were speaking. So, after we dropped his sister off at school, we were riding in silence as I was composing myself thinking of how I could validate him because I completely understood why he wasn’t thinking clearly. I broke the silence by giggling aloud.
Surprised by my move, he asked, “What’s so funny, dad?”
I replied in jest, “How in the world did you forget your study guide and your shirt when you went inside to only get those two things?!?”
With the tension now interrupted, he said, “I don’t know dad. I just…”
Then, I extended my arm around his neck. As I pulled his head to my nose, I sniffed his hair. Shocked, he said, “WHAT are you doing, dad?”
I replied, “I’m sniffing your head for BUTT because that’s where your head has been!”
We both had a good laugh together…I think we’ll both remember our Huxtable moment.