Friday, May 3, 2013

Father vs son - Who ya got?

One thing I always remember about my dad was the constant realization that, while he would never actually do this, he had it in his power to crush me physically.

That sounds horrible when I go back and read it, and I don't mean to imply I grew up in a house in which physical violence was the least bit common. It wasn't.

I can remember getting spanked once in my life. Just once. And it never happened again, because I was too smart to allow it to happen again. I learned my lesson.

Which is why, as a parent, I don't really have a problem with spanking. It's a punishment I've doled out a handful of times in the lives of my five kids, and it's something I don't ever anticipate using (or having to use) again.

But the point is, I knew that if I ever messed up big time, one of the possible outcomes was my father beating the tar out of me.

Even when I passed him in height (it was only by an inch or so), I would never have dreamed of messing with him. Mostly because he was Dad, with a capital 'D.' And he was so good to me, I never felt compelled to test him.

This subject is relevant to me now because:

(A) My older son is a full 3 1/2 inches taller than I am.
(B) My younger son will also likely pass me in height in another five or six years.

Tall Boy is in eighth grade, and he's only 150 pounds or so. I've got a good 25 pounds on him. I could totally take him. For now. Once he fills out in high school, though, I don't know.

On the other hand, even when my dad was in his 60s, he was still strong. Or at least it seemed that way to me. I think that, had I done something like disrespect my mom in front of him, he would have smacked me across the room. And I would have said, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

Which makes me wonder what the gap is between Perceived Dad Strength and Actual Dad Strength. We, as guys, endue our fathers with superhuman qualities. Dad can do almost anything in our eyes (except fix boys are aware of my shortcomings there.)

But the truth is our fathers are flawed, just like every other human being. And maybe we as sons don't want to find weakness in them. Maybe we think that, if Dad = Superman, eventually we will, too.

So we see them as stronger, smarter, and overall awesomer (it's my blog, I can make up words) than they really are.

Or, maybe I'm getting way too philosophical about this and my Dad really could beat me up well into senior citizen-hood.

Either way, I don't ever want to have to drop the gloves with either of my boys. But if you ever see me walking around with a black eye, you'll know that "Actual Dad Strength" is a lot less than I had hoped...


  1. Some Ivory Tower institution should spend seven figures on a study of "Old Man Strength". My friends and I joked about it when we were in high school and college concerning our dads and coaches and am now on the verge of being on the other end of the equation.

  2. I fully agree! And I'm willing to participate as a test subject...

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