Thursday, May 14, 2015

parental pride I guess

One of the goals I guess I'm stuck with is this: It's not something that I could ever "attain," but neither is it something I could fail to attain." It's a bit strange, but it came up yesterday and lingers today.

The goal is to help or be party to someone else's efforts to stand on his or her own feet... not agree with me, but agree and be content with his or her own efforts and, into the bargain, be somehow "right" -- a slippery slope word if ever there were one.

In social-speak, I guess you could say I am proud of my son. Social-speak is the language that's used without much reflection, that's gets a social bye because "everyone knows" what you're talking about. A father being proud of his son gets a bye: Everyone knows and forgives the activity and who knows, maybe they're right. But it doesn't work that way for me. I'm not sure what being proud means or how it functions in real terms. How much is just another form of ego tripping? How much of my reluctance to accede to social-speak is just neurotic I-don't-deserve-it-stuff from the past? I don't like bragging on what I hold near and dear ... it's too selfish and, like as not, inaccurate.

The proximate cause of all this muddling was a front page article that appeared in the local paper yesterday, the tale of an amputee who is competing in track events that my son coaches. It was a better-than-average, feel good, play-the-violins piece in that it provided some context for this young man's efforts ... how he came to have his legs cut off, how his mother felt about it all, etc. It was a cut above the usual sports reporting that is long on gee-whiz and short on humanity.

Anyway, my son played a role in helping this young man who was mustering efforts to do something. Supporting him. Pushing him. Where the young man ran a race all by himself, my son got the rest of the track team out to cheer him on, among other things.

It made me want to cry, somehow. My son doing the work of what I consider to be a "man." To praise what is ordinary is going a step to far and yet I couldn't help myself. It is ordinary and right to lend a hand. It happens every day in a hundred ways. To notice it is OK. To try to make it happen is OK. To call it extraordinary is just more bullshit from the TED-talk stage.

I have always wanted my kids to be happy. And woven into that process there has been a will-o'-the-wisp wish that they would be "good human beings." My son's small contribution to this amputee's serious effort was his move ... I had nothing to do with it, but my son made a man's move, a grown-up move that makes me ill to describe as "altruism." On his own hook...on his own two feet... and right.

A grown-up... and I was there to see it.

And forget all about the ordinary stuff that is just right.

To borrow from the old movie, "Little Big Man," "My heart soars like a hawk."


  1. I read that story in the Gazette and was very moved.
    Anyone who helped/ enabled/encouraged that young athlete is certainly a fine person, and a legitimate source of pride.