Ok, I get it

It took me a long time to get it. A long time to figure out why, at 19, my parents would ask me to pay rent or move out just because I wanted to take a year off of school. I just needed a break, I explained. After all, I had been in school as long as I could remember, and I needed to just take some time to breath. College was hard, after all. In high school, I was able to kind of skate by and make it ok. But now my classes and labs and study work were dominating my time, and I had far better things to do. I remember my Dad telling me I would never go back. I assured him he didn't know what he was talking about. And I remember my Mother telling me that to get what you want, you have to put in the work. No one gets a free ride. I rolled my eyes, declared my independence, and set out into the world.

After years of struggling in a failing marriage, trying to make a living out of flipping burgers, and feeling like I was treading water, the haze started to lift. I remade my life by changing careers and, later, changing life. I traded in my restaurant name tag for a more fulfilling career, where I get to truly help people instead of asking if they want fries with that. I broke free from a marriage that was leaving me miserable and penniless. I declared my independence all over again. I went a little crazy, and brought myself back on the right track, and found someone else who wanted to walk the path with me. I could see what my parents were saying a little more clearly then, as it took me twenty years to overcome the mistakes I made when I knew everything. But still, I am not sure I really got it. Until this week.

As you know, I am a proud father. My three sons are the best parts of my life, and each has their own talents and passion that blow me away. I love Tanners ability with numbers. The kid always has a calendar and know the weather forecast better than the guys on tv. Ben can draw anything and has become such a great artist that I am convinced he could be the next Bob Ross. And then there is John-Michael with football. He knows the sport inside and out, and is driven on the field to always be better than the week before. But it was his football that finally made me finally get what my parents were saying all these years ago.

I have always wanted to be the cool parent. I always wanted my guys to know that my house was their haven and that their Dad had their backs no matter what. When JM was in his cast all summer, I pushed the school, doctors, and his Mom to let him play. Tiffany and I have become active boosters of the team, taking part in team dinners, buying shirts with his name on them, and attending every game. And when he didn't see the field for the first two games, I encourages him to work harder. And he did. He busted his butt in practice and finally played the second half of game three. I was so proud when he made three tackles and sealed off the left side, forcing an opposing player the other way and straight into the clutches of his team mates for a loss. He was headed for a start this week, and I told him that I was seriously impressed. He had earned a start. Then I got the email.

As I looked at my computer I could not believe what I was reading. How can he be failing a class. 18%? Wow. I read on to find out it was because he was not turning in his homework. I asked him about it. He told me he forgot. I explained that he needed to be a student first, athlete second and that he may be declared ineligible by the school. He told me that since his game was Wednesday and eligibility is not checked til Friday, that he would make up the assignments before then and not miss any time. I got a pit in my stomach. I asked myself what kind of message I would be sending by allowing him to play. That he can slack off and get around the system, only doing just enough to get by at the last minute to get what he wanted. And I said to him "I am sorry son, but you are not playing this week". And the battle was on.

He told me I was unfair. He told me he was still eligible by school standards so I should let him play. He told his mom he hated me and hoped I was happy cause I ruined his life, and that he was glad he hurt my feelings.   I told him I loved him and that it is my job to teach him responsibility and that he did this to himself. He said blah blah blah whatever Dad. Kind of funny and hurtful all at the same time.

 I am sure it won't be the last time he is that angry with me With him being 14, I have 4 or 5 more hormone filled years to look forward to from him. If he is anything like me, I am sure they won't be easy. But as I listened to him, I heard myself telling my parents the same thing. And I got it. He is just like me.  I am sure he will someday get it too. let's just hope he's not pushing 40 before it clicks.

At last nights game he would not speak to me. He scowled at me every chance. But he did so in street clothes, watching his team get their first win of the year. And he was ineligible. And that is what I hope he remembers. Either way, this is my weekend with them. Should be a ton of fun!

Day # 535 and, even if my son hates me right now, it is still good to be me........


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