Growing every second

A couple Sundays ago, I found myself killing time in the middle of a church social function. I don’t do terribly well at social functions. It’s always been a weak point of mine.  I’m not very good at making small talk with strangers, and, since I’m aware of that, a weird sort of tension builds within me. It’s like I expect someone to point me out and shout “you do not know what you’re doing!”

Fortunately, I was at this particular social function with the rest of my family.

My wife was doing her thing, of course, chatting happily with all comers, the center of a circle of social goodness.

As predictably successful as she was being, my oldest son was off fulfilling his own stereotype: filling plate after plate of food from the spread of chips, meatballs and chicken wings.


That left my youngest son and I, standing on the periphery, trying to figure out how to deal with all the strangers who were politely ignoring us.

We played some rock-paper-scissors, then started trying to guess what other people were talking about.

As he turned to my side to see someone that I had nodded toward, the top of his head brushed the hand of the person behind me. He ducked away, quickly, his eyes wide.

“Look at how tall he is,” he whispered. “He’s a giant!”

I glanced over my shoulder. The guy behind me was at least a foot taller than me, probably two.

“He’s as much taller than me as I am taller than you,” I whispered back to my son.

“Think he’s seven feet?”

“Or more” I said. “Wait. I have an idea. Want to get on my shoulders?”

His eyes widened. “Think we’ll be taller than he is?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let’s do it!”

I knelt down, he climbed up onto my shoulders, and I stood up. “Try to act casual,” I whispered.

He started giggling.

I worked my way in a slow circle through the crowd and back to the super-tall guy.

“I think he’s still taller,” my son whispered.

“Why don’t I walk up to him, and you can say hello? Just look him in the eye and pretend like I’m not here.”

He giggled again.

My oldest son appeared through the crowd, a paper plate of meatballs in his hand. “What are you doing?”

I nodded over my shoulder. “Are we taller?”

He didn’t even crack a smile, just considered. “Not quite,” he said. “Want me to get on?”

It was tempting, but we decided against it.

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