Yesterday I declared myself the king of "I told you so," and two friends agreed wholeheartedly. Issue some dire warning about my future or some half-baked assurance based upon your own experience, and l will prove you wrong, out of spite if for no other reason. Unfortunately, I don’t get to say "I told you so" as often as I’d like. People seem to conveniently forget about their predictions when they are proven wrong or are too sensitive to handle a well-timed "I told you so," assuming that the declaration is some kind of personal attack on my part.
My daughter has provided me with ample opportunities to say "I told you" so in the past year. Since her birth, I have dispelled with their warnings sleepless nights (I sleep more now than I ever had before Clara was born), their predictions that I wouldn’t see the inside of a movie theater for at least five years (I saw fifteen movies last year and four so far this year) and even their assurances that Clara would find her way back into our bed on a routine basis (Clara has been sleeping in her own room, in her own crib, since she was three months old, and only once were we foolish enough to bring her into bed with us).
There were warnings about the strain that a baby can put on a marriage (never happened), the loss of free time (I wrote a novel during Clara’s first year while still playing lots of golf, hoops, and poker) and the horrors of diaper changing (it really isn’t bad at all).
In all these instances, I rarely had the opportunity to say "I told you so." I assumed that by issuing such dire warnings to a new father, these nattering nabobs of negativity must have been suffering from the same problems that they described. After all, misery loves company. So even though I would love to tell them that their warnings of peril and disaster were unjustified and perhaps even a little cruel, to do so might be rubbing their noses in their own troubles.
I still do it from time to time, but not as often as I’d like.
But when someone else has the opportunity to say "I told you so" to me, I stand up and admit to my mistake.
It happened this weekend.
Three years ago, I scoffed at my friends’ decision to take their daughter to swimming and tumbling class. Actually, I wasn’t terribly critical of the swimming class. Though I think most parents can do a fine job of teaching their children to swim, pools, lakes and other large bodies of water can be dangerous places for children, so a little formal training is fine by me, and I expressed as much at the time.
But in terms of the tumbling class, I wrote:
My friends, Shep and Kelly, are taking their daughter to tumbling class on Saturday.
Without attempting to raise their ire, since when the hell did kids need to go to tumbling class? I understand that tumbling is the pre-cursor to gymnastics, but is there anything that their daughter will be doing in tumbling class that they couldn’t do with her themselves? Wouldn’t it be better to spend an hour in the living room, teaching her to tumble as a family, rather than handing the kid off to strangers?
Three years later, I find myself taking my daughter to a class similar to the tumbling class that Shep once described to me. Clara loves it.
I love it, too.
At the time of my naive, self-assured derision, I underestimated the value of playmates and instructors, the effectiveness of music timed to specific activities, and the sheer joy that Clara gets from the equipment that these gyms are able to provide. I misunderstood the importance of organization, routine, transitions, and a fast-paced environment for children Clara’s age, and I assumed that whatever could be done in the gym could also be done in the living room.
I was stupid.
So Shep, go ahead and say it:
You told me so. I was wrong and you were right. Congratulations.
That’s what I get for putting everything in writing.