When I was very little, someone bought a rocking horse for me. It was too big for my bedroom, so my mom set it up in the little laundry room at the back of the house.
I have very vague recollections of riding it, but mom talks about how I rode the heck out of that thing, leaning back and forward so far that she thought I would flip the darn thing.
Much of my recollections of the horse are from the stories of my parents, a picture of me being held on the horse when I was still too little to sit up, and of the day it was taken to the garage to store after I had either lost interest or mom had finally tired of dodging it while doing laundry.
The funniest thing about my memories of the horse are the comments I made about it throughout my life. You see, I was very small at the time, and the horse was, of course, gigantic to me. I had to have help getting on and off.
It was thrilling to ride, I’m sure because it was not only fun but dangerous. As my mother said, it seemed I would flip it as I furiously rode it and stretched it to its limits.
Anytime the subject of rocking horses would come up, I liked to be the story topper and tell people how much luckier I had been as a kid. You see, my rocking horse, with the word “my” in italics, was much larger than most rocking horses.
In fact, I told everyone, “my” horse (again with emphasis and in italics) was the size of a normal sized horse.
Now, you may look at the bragging I did above and think “How cute. Here’s a little boy who had memories of being tiny and riding a rocking horse that seemed huge to him.”
But it’s not that cute. I was pretty dumb. And the reason I think I was dumb is because I continued to tell about my rocking horse being the size of a regular horse well into my growing up years.
When we learned that we were going to have our first baby, nothing doing but I had to get up in the garage attic at mom’s and retrieve that gigantic horse. Still, even at the age and wisdom level I was, I was expecting to uncover that horse in the attic and need extra help to lift the thing down out of the attic.
After all, it was huge!
Imagine my surprise when I discovered how lightweight the horse was. How small. How delicate. How regular, ordinary and normal as any small rocking horse.
Holy Toledo, was I dumb.
Now I must (with must in italics and with emphasis) have realized long before that, because I was little, everything seemed bigger back then.
But I guess that didn’t occur to me until embarrassingly late in life and I hadn’t thought much about perspective. And you see, I am admitting I was still sort of expecting it to be a huge horse when I hauled it out of the attic at age 31.
Well, give me a break. I hadn’t seen the guy in around 25 years after all.
I cleaned him up, put some new finishing touches on him and put him in our nursery. My own kids have all ridden the horse. My kids and our nieces and nephews rode the heck out of that horse.
Our youngest daughter rode it with great abandon, surely like I did at her age. More than once, she came back from her trail ride with a fat lip or a bruised forehead from some thrilling chase or retreat.
Just recently, I realized that my old horse (never named), needed to be dismantled yet again. He went back into the garage attic, just where he’d been 23 years before – yet this time in a different garage.
I was a little sad to put him up there, but I knew he’d be in safe keeping until the next crop of kids came along.
It is my hope that my own children and grandchildren won’t go around talking about their rocking horse that was the size of Trigger. Especially after they reach adulthood.
Dumb, I tell you.