Thursday, January 24, 2008


So I’ve been rolling with my son this week … grappling … Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s the most time I’ve spent with him since he was a teenager. Early teens, in fact. I get him, which can’t be all that easy for him to bear. He’s used to winning. He understands of course that the little that he’s been able to roll has been with guys that he has been teaching. As I say, winning makes you stupid. He’s not stupid, but he is used to winning. So he admits to getting frustrated, but he also affirms that there’s a part of him that needs to lose. It’s how you learn to win. As opposed to just winning, as I do, because of my body type.

As for me, I’m afraid of his elbows. He’s rough. Uses a lot of strength, and speed. It’s impressive. But he’s not gentle. And as we were rolling, I did find myself getting aggressive. It’s how I respond eventually to being muscled around. Interesting. I’ve been so patient with the guys I roll with, but there’s something going on, with my son. A twinge of impatience. I talked with him later about it. Some sort of father-son thing, that I don’t quite understand.

The obvious thing is that I will not, I will not go gentle into that good night. I will eventually be supplanted. But not today, and not easily. Yes, I do have an ego, even as a father. And there is still a bit of that sense of ownership. I want him to be the way I want him to be. He’s his own man, though. Honestly, that’s got some convolutions to it.

He rolls mostly with me. I am, after all, pretty tough. He rolled with M, the brown belt, and was dominated. M is impossible. But my son liked it. Lots of lessons, and he’s there to learn. Last night he rolled with R, another brown belt, for quite a while. Fifteen, twenty minutes. I managed to see the ending -- my boy got a really sweet arm bar. I can’t move like that. R is, as I’ve said, an admirable character. I’m sure he has it, but I’ve never seen ego from him.

I do know there’s some talk about my son, being rough. He’s teachable though. Not out of control. He comes from the most macho place in the world: the US military. A little adjustment period is to be expected. He’s a level-headed guy … I can’t bring myself to call him a kid.

So there it is. I’m competitive, and protective. I’m proud of him, and impatient. The lesson for me, which I already know and have known for years and years -- before he came into existence -- is that our children are gifts entrusted to our care for a time by God. They are not our children. They are God’s children, that he wants us to love. They are their own people, and have worth independent of us parents, and they have wills and ambitions that should be nurtured and guided, lest they be perverted and crippled. We are told to honor our fathers and our mothers. But we are told that same thing, regarding our children. Provoke not your children to wrath.

I miss the little boy he was, because I loved to sweep him up into my arms and hug him. That was so simple. Now it’s more complex. Sort of the difference between a pet and a person. That’s okay. It’s better than okay. It’s good. My son left me as a teenager and returned as a grown man. A man, mind you, whom people have actively tried to kill in open combat. Do you even know anyone like that? He looks up to me, still, because he knows the best part of my character. But he’s twice the man I am. Yes, I’m proud. I’m proud of myself, for raising him well, and I’m proud of him, for being honorable, and excellent, and admirable.

I said that I win because of my body type. That’s true, insofar as it goes. But I win because of my character. I have worked harder than others have worked. I have eaten better, for three decades, than others do. I have exercised more intelligently. I have overcome the barrier of age and the handicap of having a rather stupid physical-brain. There is nobody of any size and of similar experience who dominates me. I dominate, and hold my own against those who are sixty and eighty pounds heavier than me. I did this, by working very hard, through the pain and the ache that would keep most men at home. And why?

Because I have a son. For whom I must be an example. So that he can be proud, as I am proud of him.

There are no secrets. When the dark things are brought to light, we’d better have something to balance the judgments. Right? And this, this, this is what will justify us. Love. The hidden things will be made known. But love covers a multitude of sins.


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