All is still right in my world

A year ago today I penned a blog entitled All is right with the world. It was an account about a day in court, a celebration of my boys being home, and lamenting the long road it took to get to that place. Today, 365 days later, a lot has changed. Lil red and I have gone from being engaged to being an old married couple. John-Michael is halfway through a freshman year that has already seen him play an entire football season and qualify for the varsity wrestling team. Ben is becoming a teen ager and knows everything, and is happy to tell you he does. And Tanner turns double digits today, and the birthday cake for breakfast is one of the traditions our family has adopted since the boys came home a little over a year ago.

I have often reflected on my childhood and stark differences I had in male role models. And I have always chosen to follow the lead of the man I call Dad, Michael Bromberg. This man was always supportive and made sacrifices for my siblings and I that we can never repay. From the day I found out my first wife and I were expecting John-Michael, I vowed to follow his example as closely as I could. Admittedl,y I have failed miserably many times, but I try my best to make sure these guys know that their Dad is their biggest fan in their lives. And so was the case last evening.

Weeknight wrestling meets are nothing new. JM had several of these last year as an eighth grader, and they typically lasted about 90 minutes, making even the "away" competitions in Westerville or New Albany very convenient and easy to fit into the schedule. So even with last nights meet being in Mt. Vernon, an hour away, I still thought we would be in and out like last year. Um, no.

When we got to the gym, I realized there were 4 teams there. I asked him if this was practice. "Nope," he said. "It is a mini tournament!"

Tournament? Where you sit in the bleachers for 6,7,8 hours and your kid wrestles in 3 or 4 rounds? Each round lasts about 90 minutes? And we have to be up at 6:00am tomorrow for work and school? I asked if he was sure, he said yes, and my mind suddenly replayed my entire day. The up early, at work before 7, getting teams started, heading to Cincinnati, inspecting a job, coming back to the office, writing estimates, signing another fire at 4pm just before I made the 62 minute drive to the place I was standing at that moment. And now it looked like hours and hours before I would curl up next to my wife in our big comfy bed. 

With a groan I walked to the concession stand and asked for a black coffee. The lady informed they they don't sell coffee, so a Snickers bar and Cherry Coke had to do as I looked for energy to get through the night. JM asked me to keep an eye out for his mother, who he invited because she only lives 10 minutes from that school and he figured if she was ever going to come, that was the night. (She didn't, and I will get back to that in a moment). Round one came and went and he didn't take the mat. Another kid on his team in his weight class meant he was going to go in round two, and which ever of them did better would go in the third. So I waited.

When he finally stepped into the circle just before 9 (this shin dig started at 6:20) I was nearly asleep. there is only so much a candy bar and caffeine can do. And 9 is my normal bedtime. But, like everytime he is ready to compete, I handed my phone to another Dad to video tape the match and got to one knee on the floor beside the mat. JM and his 0-1 record on the year stepped in against a kid who was ready for a battle. We saw this young man last year, and he was a very good wrestler then. Now, more filled out, he had bulked up into JM's weight class and, when the whistle blew, he went on the attack. He grabbed John-Michael's head and trip to snap it down. My son resisted and took his opponent to the floor. Within seconds he had him on his back and set for the pin. He held him there for 4, 5, 6 seconds and the ref would not call it. So he let the kid go a little, only to put him into a move called the cradle. 

Wrapping your opponent into a fetal position with their legs in the air, it becomes hard for them to fight out of this hold. JM had been working on this for awhile and, as soon as he put the kids shoulders to the mat, the ref called the pin. Total domination. His best match ever. And his Dad was proud.

I met him in the corner after he saw the trainer for a cut over his eye and told him that he has really come a long way from the time I blogged about his first pin (Calculated risk). His response was the same as it was then,  as he told me he needed to get a lot better. And I thought to myself, yeah he really does get it. Life lesson applied.

Round 3 was a wash as the last team they faced did not have a wrestler in his weight class. So I told him I would meet him at the school and started the long trek home. The bus got to the high school just before 11:40 pm, and I realized that high school wrestling is a whole different ballgame. And with 2 weeknight matches set for next week, it looks like I may be missing my bed a whole lot more as the season rolls on.

On the ride home, JM told me he wasn't all that upset about his Mom not coming. I told him I would not blame him if he was, but that was between him and her. He said he knows, but that what he will remember isthat I am always there, and that is all he needs. It made me smile, but I think he may have been hiding how hurt he was, and I feel for him. I know that feeling, from when I was a kid and would wait hours for my birth Dad to come get me, only to be disappointed every time. That feeling hits me as hard today as it did then. It is another reminder that, while I do everything I can for my guys, I am not responsible for someone else's burning bridge.

When I wrote that blog a year ago, all was right in my world. My boys were home and I knew, at least for the foreseeable future, that was not going to change. Now, as time has passed, it looks as though it never will. And while I can never take away the way others make them feel at times, hopefully the way they feel when they see us in the stands, or when we ask them to paint something for us, or when we take them to a ballgame, or when they are home, helps even it all out.

Day #282. Happy 10th Birthday Tanner, you and your brothers are 3 of the reasons it is good to be me!


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