There’s a sign in South Dakota that looks like this:
Stay left, is how I read the sign. To my father it’s a command. He perks up upon seeing these four one-syllable words, “Ohhh, a sod house, isn’t that interesting.” He turns right. “Isn’t this interesting!” Before the rest of the family is out of the car he’s signed up for a tour. “Isn’t this great!” My sisters and I trail behind. To us the sod house is a sod house. We tire of it quickly. “Isn’t this interesting!” my father sings his refrain.
Now the sod house is not just a sod house; it’s an aside in the road my memory travels, a container that holds something quirky but essential about my father. What that thing is avoids defining. It’s more than my father’s willingness to stop and smell the flowers; more than an example of his exuberance. It’s a sod house: a thing made from something simple that turns into something endlessly interesting.
This sort of interruption is what I find myself remembering when I think of my parents parenting — the asides, the refrains. As a (possible) future parent, I hope that I can turn off the main road sometimes, forget about the set plan, and show my (possible) children the importance of sod houses.
Reminder: today is the last day for this week’s Parenthetical Thoughts mission. Share with us the important lessons of parenting that you have learned.