The Dummy Incident · 7 August 2011

Sometimes, okay, most of the time, what we say can be taken out of context. And used against us. Thankfully, it was not what I said this time.

We were on vacation in California visiting some good friends of ours, Larry and Kathy, when the fateful words were uttered. The words are much funnier taken out of context than in, so I better set up the story before delivering the punch line.

Wyatt, one of Larry and Kathy’s many children, is somewhat a roping protégé. He is all of three years old and has a rope in his hands all the time. He wants to rope steers all the time. Just like his dad. Now, as far as I understanding roping, there are headers and heelers. Headers rope the steer’s head then, the heeler ropes the back legs. It is quite the rodeo feet (no pun intended or at least not planned). And they need to do this feat of dexterity and timing while riding horses!

Contrary to those many parents who drag their kids from event to event hoping they will go pro in something to support them in their retirement, Larry and Kathy have to tie Wyatt up (figuratively speaking) to keep him from roping. Punishment often means taking away riding and roping privileges. Naturally, they encourage his passion as much as possible.

It does help that roping is also Larry’s passion. It means that there are lots of steers for Wyatt to rope, even when he is not on his horse. Those plastic and PVC steers (which even include a battery-operated one) might be called dummies. (Yes, the punch line – the out of context line – is coming soon. You can just feel it.) And Wyatt can be found roping those dummies pretty much all the time.

One day, Kathy was running out of patience. (That happens from time to time when you are a parent, regardless of how many kids you have.) Wyatt was frustrated because the plastic battery-operated steer was not working, so he was whining to his mom about fixing it so he could rope. Obviously, Kathy had reached the end of her proverbial rope because she snapped, “Go out and play with the other dummies!”

With all of the other kids around (they were actually outside, which makes more sense for the punch line but not for the story), my wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, had to turn away to keep from laughing out loud. It did not really work though as every kid there, including our own, figured out that my wife’s convulsing body, crying eyes, and covered mouth meant she was laughing. And upon reflecting on Kathy’s words, all the kids figured out that, even though it was not her intent, they could be those dummies Wyatt was supposed to play with.

It was one of those moments in parenting when regardless of how much stress or pain is present, you just had to laugh. And Kathy did. She and The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi had a great laugh. So did the kids. And naturally, my wife told me that I needed to commit the incident to paper. Which I was all too eager to do since the whole incident did not involve me doing something silly or stupid.

Naturally, the dummy incident will take on a life of its own and grow with the telling, but this is pretty close to the unvarnished truth. Thankfully, whether taken in or out of context, what was said cannot be used against me. This time.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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