January 16, 2005

Ghost Riders in The Sky

Just finished listening to Johnny Cash sing Ghost Riders in the Sky. My son and I listen to that and dance around the house, or should I say that he rides me around the house, the little cowboy.

As he grows older and get's bigger I find so many new things to do with him and so many old tricks come out as well. That is, I find myself doing the things that my father did with me and it is a mix of good and bad memories. The good memories exceed the bad, but the bad are still with me, lingering.

So you wonder, what are the bad things. Well it is simple, relatively speaking. My father played very rough with me. I don't think that he intended to be all that rough, it is just part of the challenge of wrestling with someone who you outweigh by 200 pounds. You try to be gentle, but every now and then it slips away from you.

See, the men in my family are all built like trucks. We are all built with a very strong set of legs and an upper body to match. I don't have to work out hard to be as strong or stronger as most men I encounter. Call it astrology, I am a Taurus or just call it genetic, it doesn't matter. My son has the same benefits of the gene pool as I do.

He is 36.5 pounds of terror and he is relentless. He keeps coming back for more, determined to have the last say in the battle. We spend a ton of time just laughing as we wrestle and I am very conscious of the size difference. I try hard not to inadvertently hurt him. It hasn't happened yet, but I expect that at some point it might.

Or maybe it is just the memory of my father playing a little bit too rough with me that is materializing, I am not totally sure. I remember being around 7 or 8 and determined to beat my father, I was going to pin him. I kept coming after him, I remember grabbing him around the neck and using my legs to try and drive him from his knees to his back. And I remember being torn off of him time and time again. At some point it wasn't fun anymore, it was a mission and I failed to meet my objective.

Now there is no shame in this, but I still remember the frustration, but it didn't stop me from trying or from doing so for many years afterwards.

And now I see the same look in my son's eyes and I am looking for ways to spare him the frustration. At the same time I want him to understand a few things. One of those is that there is always someone who is bigger and tougher than you are. It is a lesson that I took from those days of wrestling with my dad.

But it also made me learn a few other things, like how to be tenacious and how to look at overcoming a problem from different angles.

I am not sure when my father and I stopped wrestling. The last time I remember coming close to it was when I was 20 and he was around 46 or so. I was at the peak of my workout days as I would spend hours at the gym and was just a solid muscle. He had been deskbound for many years and while still quite strong he didn't have the stamina to keep up with me.

We began to go at it and I was really up for the challenge, to finally win when I suddenly heard a voice in my head. It was saying Cabed et eevecha veh et eemecha. (That is a really rough transliteration of the Hebrew) In plain English I could hear someone tell me to honor my father and allow him to continue to believe that he could beat his little boy wrestling.

I was surprised at how easy it was for me to just give in, but I didn't want to make him feel badly by beating him. A short time after this I saw a poster that said something to the effect of this:

"When a father helps a son to learn to walk only the child cries. When a son helps a father to walk they both cry."

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