Friday, January 2, 2009

I finally figured it out

Rachel and I both come from families of seven kids. In fact, we’re both the third of seven and both families have four boys and three girls. But that’s not the point. The point is that we have three kids and often feel as if they’re going to drive us over the edge. We have no idea how our parents managed to do it with seven.

Actually, we used to have no idea. I recently figured it out.

On Wednesday morning, I picked my parents up at 6:00 a.m., and we drove to Boise to load up our stuff and move it to Utah. (Incidentally, my original plan was to fly to Boise by myself and then drive the truck back towing a trailer. As I considered it, I thought it would be nice to have help, so on Monday morning, I emailed my dad and asked if he wanted to come too. He said “yes, but only if your mother can come.” How cool is that?)

I had a bit of running around to do, first picking up a trailer from U-haul, then getting a truck from Penske (I wish Penske rented trailers--more on that later). This took me a couple of hours, during which time, I left my parents to pack up the last few things in the house, disassemble the beds, and start cleaning.

When I returned, I was absolutely floored at the amount of work had been done. My mom is an absolute machine. If she went to work as a packer and got paid by the job and not the hour, she would make way more than she does teaching school, even though she’s been doing that for 20 years.

My dad was no slouch either. In the hour or so before I picked him up to get the truck he had done two hours worth of work.

And then it hit me that that’s how they did it. Seven kids are manageable if you’re capable of working twice as fast as a normal adult. I suddenly feel like such a slacker.

Rachel’s parents have similar superpowers. Several years ago, my father-in-law and I were at his house in Indiana splitting wood. He had cut down several large trees on his property and was splitting them for firewood. We had worked our way down a tree and were left with a thick, misshapen stump so big I could barely get my arms around it.

I’m a pretty strong guy. To make my point, allow me to brag for a bit: when I was in high school, I was the Utah state champion at Olympic style weightlifting. Sure, it’s a fringe sport, and there weren’t a lot of competitors, but you get my point. I’m not as capable as I was then, but I can still pick up and move heavy things fairly well.

But I couldn’t move this stump. Couldn’t get it to budge, let alone pick it up. Rachel’s dad, who’s never lifted weights or done any formal strength training in his life, looks at me as I’m straining under this thing and says “what’s wrong, can’t you lift it?”

I looked at him and said “I’ll give you $500 if you can pick up this stump and put it on the splitter by yourself.”

He walked over to the stump, bent over, and put his arms around it. Then, for dramatic effect, he paused, looked at me, and said “I won’t make you pay me.” Then he picked it up—all back, no legs—and put it on the splitter.