Two Steps Backwards

Not Smart Enough for College (24)

I clearly remember one hot summer day I spent stacking hay with Uncle Quinn, Grandpa Cazier, and a couple of cousins. I was 10 years old and none of us yet realized I was having symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome. One of my OCD symptoms involved my ability to walk without stepping on anything. In case you may be wondering how that happens, let me reassure you that it CAN’T.

My problem was that whenever I stepped and felt something through my shoe, I felt compelled to turn around, go back and step on it again. Not only did I have to step on it again, but I had to keep stepping on it until it “felt right.” Oh, and it had to be an even number of steps too or I just kept stepping. Obviously, this caused me and those around me a great deal of aggravation because it took me forever to walk anywhere. It was this behavior that triggered my uncle’s comment that day.

We had been working since early morning, and our haystack was about 15-20 feet high when I walked to the edge to pick up a bale and carry it to another part of the stack. As I approached the edge someone yelled, “Calvert, don’t get so close to the edge or you'll fall!” to which Uncle Quinn wryly responded, “Don’t worry about Calvert. He takes one step forward and two steps backwards.”

We all burst out laughing, myself included. I’ve always had a pretty good sense of humor and I knew my uncle was joking around and not being mean. In fact, I could see the fun in his comment better than anyone else and laughed the hardest of all.

Research shows that having a sense of humor can be a great strength for children. It can help them stress proof themselves and be better prepared to face their challenges. I know it was a lifesaver for me.

From early childhood, I have been grateful for my ability to laugh at myself and incorporate humor into my friendships. Being able to see the humor in life helps us set a tone of goodwill and acceptance, making it easier for people to relax and enjoy themselves without feeling overly self-conscious or fearful of being wrongly judged.

Uncle Quinn was a great example to me of using a quick wit and a sense of humor to help people relax and ease tense situations. I never saw him use his humor to degrade or hurt anyone. Through his example, he helped me understand how to use humor appropriately.

So, when life is tough and stressful (and that can seem like everyday in this pandemic world!), let’s look for the humor in our lives and our families and cultivate the close, relaxing comfort of getting through our challenges together with a good laugh.


Thanks Uncle Quinn!


Happy Failing Forward,

Anne and Calvert

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