I recently learned something about my childhood that I have no memories of. I don’t doubt it–it rings true. It’s regarding me, my dad, and playing ball. I’m told I was about three at the time, and my dad wanted to teach me how to play catch.
The catch is that he was an accomplished athlete, and I was a gangly toddler. And each time he threw–I’m guessing it was a football–and I didn’t catch, he would throw harder.
At my stomach.
As I said, I don’t remember this, but my mom does. (She saw this transpire, and by her recollection, did nothing insofar as I know, at the time). He got angrier and angrier, and threw harder and harder, until I was reduced to tears.
I can only surmise that in his mind he thought he was trying to to toughen me up. But let’s call it what it was: bullying. A grown man, and skilled athlete, making a toddler cry? That’s not power–because anyone could do that–that’s just sheer meanness.
What keeps me up at night is that, despite his not being a regular part of my life since I was about thirteen, is that I can be just as mean. In trying to prepare my own son for the adult world, there are times I’ve gone overboard with the whole “trying to toughen him up” routine. For that, I’m truly sorry.
With regards to my dad: it’s hard to say, and not something I want to see–but the things I hate about him, are the things I hate about me.
God help me: I am my father’s son.
Please note: I’m not sharing this here to impugn my dad’s character, as he stands, or falls, by his own actions. Just as I stand, or fall, by mine. Bringing this to light here, and now, stems from the notion that I’m not alone. And if I’m not alone, neither are you. It’s my hope that by sharing some my story, you will be encouraged to share yours, or see something of yours in mine.
Which brings me to: can you relate?