Tag Archives: wrestling

CHARACTER

I’ve been silently beating myself up a lot lately for being strict with my kids. Sometimes down-right hard-ass. I feel like I’m in a constant state of giving the evil-eye or saying use your head for something other than to put a hat on (which in turn draws the evil-eye from my wife). My struggle is between ensuring they have respect for others (and each other) and a voice telling me to lighten up, relax, let them be kids: Little lego-parts or several boardgames left out on the livingroom floor – no worries. Pushing each other into furniture, snowbanks or recycling bins on the porch – looks like fun. Leaving a prize in the toilet for whoever’s next in line – no biggie. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s tough for me. I get hung-up on the little stuff. And while I have theories, in the end I really don’t know why. Psychology is a bitch.

This past Monday, I had to work late and was subsequently late for my son’s wrestling practice – which I usually help coach. Still in my street-clothes, I pulled up a seat against the wall in the wrestling room with some other dads and watched Cam practice. He had no clue I was there. It’s been said that character is who you are when you think no one is looking. Well, I had a rare chance to see how my 6 year old handles himself thinking that dad wasn’t around.

When the coach blew his whistle, he listened. When the coach hollered “double-leg takedowns. Go!” he took his partner to the mat like the move was second nature. After he took him down, he extended his hand and helped him up. A dad sitting next to me hit my arm and said “you’ve got a good kid.”

Coach blew his whistle and started to get the kids lined up, smallest to biggest, for “wrestle-offs”–the two smallest kids wrestle to a take-down, the winner takes on the next in line and so on. Turning to go line up, Cam stopped and looked around, spotting me and my big grin. We exchanged thumbs up and I told him “you shoot first.” He turned and walked over to line up, standing taller than I think I’ve ever seen him. He was ready to roll.

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Practice

My kids are beginning their journey into sports. Lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, football, basketball, golf, backyard whiffleball… the list goes on. At 8, 6 and 4 respectively, they’ve got more moxie and swagger, head-fakes and highlight-reel moments than I had when I was…well…ever, actually.

As much as I love looking through their school-work when I get home — handwriting exercises, math problems, reading responses, random crayon drawings and watercolor paintings — as a dad, my heart soars when I pull in the driveway and I’m greeted by “Daddy! Daddy’s home! Wanna play catch?!”

In truth, I was lousy at sports and school as a kid, and only realized success at both as an adult. That could be why my wife and I loosely agree on the importance of their involvement in sports in school. She tends to agree with the in-game commercial from the NCAA that says “Most of us will go pro in something other than sports,” while I tend toward “that’s fine, and most-likely true, so you better go play your ass off till you’ve gotta wear a tie.”

So when my youngest says “watch this!” and pitches a golf ball over the fence into the neighbor’s yard…when I pass the rock to my oldest who can now make baskets on our neighbors regulation hoop…when I toss a football to my 6-year-old and he takes five steps back and throws a pretty darn good spiral…I let go of a laugh that starts in my soul, carries with it every hope, fear, anxious moment, expectation, disappointment and glorious success I’ve experienced in life. I laugh and jump in the air with my hands up. They run to me for high-fives and I holler things like “what a shot! I don’t think that’s coming down!” and “at the buzzer for 3!” and (of course) “touchdown!”And they smile their perfect 8, 6, and 4-year-old smiles, turn their swagger up a notch and we play some more.

I feel like I’m doing something right…which, as most dads will understand, is huge. I’m constantly amazed by their natural ability to “get it.” They’re learning confidence, fair play and respect. They fail, fail again and then finally figure it out. They cheer each other on. They’re learning about the value of persistence and practice. All great things to bring with them to school.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what they go pro in. Lord knows I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. I just hope they enjoy the journey as as much as the destination(s).

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey