Why My Kid Is Awesome
My oldest kid, the seventeen year-old Prince Charming, is good at math. Good enough to figure out all on his own that he had a lot to do with why I never went to college. Recently, with the encouragement and support of fellow bloggers I decided to finally soldier up and do what I’ve always talked about doing; going to school. I know adults go to college all the time, but I can’t begin to express to you how totally out of my comfort zone this is.
Yesterday I got a pep talk from one blogger in particular that I decided to share with my kid. After I finished reading it my kid stood up, walked to his room and came back carrying his football helmet. He pointed to the inside and there, written across a piece of tape was the phrase, “Leadership is action, not position.” This wasn’t the first time I’d seen this written inside his helmet, but until last night I’d forgotten all about it.
My kid has played football every year since he was ten years-old; first in the Pee Wee league and then on into high school. And even though he’s played every position there is, it was the middle linebacker position that seemed the best fit. He held that position for three years before high school.
Then the day came for the high school football team try outs. He wanted that middle linebacker position more than anything and took the field hell-bent on making sure no one out performed him. No one did.
But he didn’t get middle linebacker. The town selectman’s son did. The son who never played a game of football a single day in his life. The son who never showed up to a practice straight and most days didn’t show up at all. The son of the town selectman who approved the budget for the new lights for the football field. A tough lesson for my kid to learn at thirteen.*
Now my kid’s got a temper, so I had a whole speech lined up and ready to give just as soon as I thought he was ready to hear it. But instead of ranting and raving and quitting the team like I thought he would, he wrote “Leadership is action, not position” on a piece of tape, stuck it to the inside of his helmet and without saying a word took the field at left tackle.
Last night I asked him what was going through his mind that first day, and why he didn’t react the way I thought he would. And that’s when my kid said, “After Coach announced the positions I tried to talk to him but he wouldn’t look me in the eye. That’s when I knew for sure he rolled over. So instead of walking I decided to play like I always play, no matter how messed up the reasons were behind it. I take the field to win for myself. It doesn’t matter how you get where you’re going in order to be successful, you just need to play to win. And I’m sure you will too.”
Yeah, I broke my “no cry” rule.
Now here’s some history on why my kid is awesome. I’m warning you, it’s not going to be brief.
- This is a kid who refused to take the field at the start of a football game because the opposing team couldn’t be bothered to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. He stood his ground until they did it over.
- This is a kid who got illegally slammed during the playoffs, swore up and down he was fine and refused to leave the field. Later at the hospital we found out he played the last three quarters of the game with two cracked ribs (as a parent I was horrified, but secretly I thought it was pretty badass).**
- In eighth grade he stood up for some shy girls who were being picked on by some mean girls. Those shy girls, as well as quite a few others banded together and made a fan club in his honor, complete with buttons with his picture on it. You better believe Junior never lets him forget this.
- He was hand selected by the high school guidance counselor to be the lead peer mentor for an in school program that works with at risk kids.
- Has grown his hair to donate to the LOCKS OF LOVE charity three times.
- Was the only junior firefighter mentioned by name and honored in a ceremony by the Fire Chief for setting up a shelter during the ice storm that knocked power out of our region for nearly a month. He was fourteen years old.
- His volunteer efforts are too numerous to mention and he can often be seen digging out fire hydrants after snow storms or changing tires on the side of the road for little old ladies. No joke. It made the paper.
But life hasn’t been easy for my kid. Despite his best efforts he struggles for grades, and because of his looks was often a target for bullying when he was younger. The bullying quickly faded in high school when boys figured out that wherever there were girls, there was my kid (hence the nickname, Prince Charming).***
- Despite the fact that my younger son Junior is a living legend in our town, Prince Charming is Junior’s biggest fan and champion and never begrudges him a minute of his uber popularity.
- When his best friend decided to come out of the closet my kid was the only one who stood by him, and in the process lost many so-called “friends” and invitations to parties because of it. When the friend’s father kicked this boy out, my kid asked if he could live with us. He’s been with us for over a year now.
- His sophomore year my kid had a girlfriend named Rebekah. After her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer my kid spent every weekend the last month of this man’s life helping out with household chores like chopping wood and working on the family car. My kid was at this man’s home everyday for a week before he died, and delivered his first eulogy at the funeral. He delivered his second a week later when Rebekah was killed in a car accident herself. My kid was fifteen years-old.
With all the craziness that goes on in my day-to-day life it’s all too easy for me to forget just how amazing this kid is. Every decision I’ve made since he was born was to benefit him, so it’s almost impossible for me to imagine a time when I would do something strictly for myself. When I told him this he said, “I’m almost eighteen, which is technically a man, so now you can’t say you didn’t go to school because you had a kid to raise.” Then he handed me an algebra textbook he borrowed from school and said, “Now get to work.”
* Ten days after positions were handed out the town selectman’s kid got busted for selling weed. Guess who got middle linebacker after all.
** The best tackle of the day wasn’t made by the opposing team against my kid; it was made by me slamming Junior as he shouted at the top of his lungs from the stands, “HEY KID! YEAH YOU! I SAW WHAT YOU DID TO MY BROTHER EVEN IF THE REF DIDN’T! YOU BETTER GET SOMEONE TO WALK YOU THROUGH THE PARKING LOT ‘CUZ I’M GONNA–” Yeah, that’s when I dropped him.
*** Last year my kid disappeared for about an hour or so every Wednesday night around 7pm. to “take a walk.” I began to get concerned so I flat-out asked him what was going on. Here’s how the conversation went:
KID: “I’m taking tango lessons.”
ME: “Nice try. Should I be worried?”
KID: “I’m serious. I overheard the girls on the dance team say that they were starting tango lessons at the dance academy downtown.”
ME: “Yeah, so?”
KID: “So how many guys do you think are going to join up? I’ll tell you how many. None. Now all those girls are going to need someone to practice dancing with. Think about it.”
Interesting side note, his plan worked so well that he went on to join the dance team officially. His football coaches are NOT happy.