Most of us would agree that a big part of being a parent is to motivate, encourage, support and inspire our kids, especially when life decided to throw a few lemons their way. It’s our duty to make sure they get up again after that bump on the knee. Or the punch on the chin. We run when they fall from the swing and clean up the wound, apply the bandage and wipe their tears. Sending them off with words of encouragement so they can get back on that swing. It’s true what Wife says, “A parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child.”
But there are rare occurrences when the roles of parenthood is reversed. When your kid lifts his mask and reveal a small glimpse of the man (or woman) they are destined to become…
I’m doing an MBA. Because I’m (1) Insane, (2) In desperate need of attention, (3) Seriously bored and/or (4) Entering menopause. Doing an MBA at my age is like eating your own vomit. Only less fun. I’m tired, fed-up and cranky. (And that was before I started.) Two weeks ago I reached rock-bottom when I considered giving it all up because I didn’t think the reward was worth the effort and sacrifice I was making. Besides, my marks suck.
Rugby is religion down here on the southern tip of Africa, even though our pope is completely clueless and our players look like they’re scared of a ball. A fanatic love of the game is imprinted once you breathe your first breath of our air. Some kids get so energized by the whole thing, they’re actually willing to sacrifice their bodies and play. That is a tremendous moment for any father, seeing his little Dude run around with a ball in hand. Then they reach high school and you realise the boys they play against are slowly turning into muscular men it becomes a bit more daunting. Moms normally start advocating for other sports like football or field hockey, simply because it’s less dangerous. Dads just keep quiet and pray more often.
Dude loves rugby. Even though he technically doesn’t have the physical build for the game. (Thanks Dad!) The best part of him being in school is having the opportunity to play rugby with his mates. And making the first rugby squad is simply THE greatest honour any kid can achieve. Nothing is bigger or better, at least in the mind of a 16-year-old boy. Not even girls.
Dude didn’t make the cut. A lof of his friends did. His name didn’t appear on THE most important list of names ever published in the history of man. Princess informed us of this unfortunate development. I knew he was going to be crushed and I could relate in some way because it was during the kicking-the-MBA time of my life. I was trying to think of things to tell him as I was driving home. Nothing came to mind.
I stepped into our home, expecting depression lurking around the corner, only to hear laughter irrupt from the lounge. To say it was unexpected would be the understatement of the century. It’s like saying Meryl Streep is overrated.
Long story short: Dude was very disappointed but instead of sulking and complain about the unfairness of his life, he was determined. Determined to do better. Determined to work harder. Determined to get his name on that list; no matter what it takes. (Hopefully short of assassinating anyone!) Dude got up by himself. Dusted himself. He wiped his own tears, cleaned his own wound and walked straight back to that swing. Without a bandage. He’s not giving up.
And as he was saying these words to my face, I cringed. For he spoke straight into my heart, addressing my own negativity, my own doubt. He told me to get up and stop sulking. To go out there and do what needs to be done. I was fighting the tears as they welled in my eyes, being struck down with the greatest feeling of pride I have ever felt in my entire life.
I pulled him close and I didn’t want to let him go. Ever. This was my son teaching me a lesson in life.
He’s still not on the team but he’s still trying, doing his best, dodging the ups and downs of the tough ride he chose until he reaches the day when all his efforts will be worth it.
I still have 18 months to go but I’m trying, doing my best, dodging the ups and downs of the tough ride I chose until I reach the day when all my efforts will be worth it.
And only because Dude inspired me to be a better man.