Phoenix Fables

Forgotten Dad Lessons

We often forget the impact we have on others.  Here’s a little reminder that came from The Boy (now age 29) through Facebook Messenger of what a shitty dad I am.

From the Boy:

Nick Kyrgios doesn’t think he owes Rafa Nadal an apology after ripping a forehand shot directly at him during their match at Wimbledon on Thursday.

… It’s only a tennis ball you pussy… Especially when Nadal is at the net, and Kyrgios is way behind the baseline.   If you both are at the net and a few feet away — then it’s kinda dirty.  But if you don’t want to get hit — don’t hit soft to someone’s forehand…
TUE 6:01 PM

From The Boy:

Thought it was funny… initial reaction was “Why is that weird?  My dad did that to me when I was 11 and laughed about it”

I don’t remember aiming at The Boy when he was 11.  I’m pretty sure I could pass a polyograph saying I didn’t do it…  But it totally sounds like something I would do — especially “and laughed about it.”

Two-point Defense

In my defense, I will make two points:

  1. Tennis balls are not deadly.  Unless it hits someone directly in the eye, the worst the most powerful tennis shot could ever do is leave a bruise.
  2. By age 11, the Boy was “huge” — well at least tall.  He was probably 5-foot-five or six by then.  Which is almost as big as a lot of grown-ass men I play now. It’s not like I was hitting a “small child”.

To be honest I didn’t limit my “winning” to tennis.  I once heard a quote from Jimmy Carter.  I’ve probably got the words wrong, but this is the idea:


“The best thing my father ever did was never let me win — he always made me earn it. I didn’t beat him at tennis until I was in college.”

The Boy is an only child.  He didn’t have brothers or sisters to teach him how to win or lose.  He won plenty against his peers, and when he was little, he was the shittiest loser I ever saw.  So I followed Jimmy Carter’s advice.

I may have taken it a bit over the top.

When the Boy was three to 12 years old, we used to wrestle.  I would pin him every time.  It always ended with him running to his mama in tears and icing some bruise or supposed brain injury.  That little shit would never “give up” until he just couldn’t go any more.

“If you had tapped out, you wouldn’t have that concussion now would you?” I’d say as he would curl up in a ball on the floor, crying and trying to keep the lights out of his eyes.

From about 10-20 years old, it was driveway basketball.  When he was 10, I’d back him down in the paint and shoot layups over his head, like I was Shaq and he was…  a 10-year-old boy.


Shaq and Earl Boykins. Pretty much the same as me and my 10-year-old.

If I missed, I didn’t hesitate to call a foul (he was holding onto my arm every time.)

When he had the ball, I’d elbow and push him out of the paint and give him hard fouls and knock him to the grass if he got passed me.

The Turn Over

By the time he was 16, he was too tall and too fast.  He won a lot of driveway basketball, but he earned every point or game.  I could compete with him until he was 25 — I still had 50 pounds on him and you can do a lot of bumping and pushing on the driveway (it’s not real basketball).  But then my knees gave out.  Last summer, we took down the backboard and rim.

But he occassionally tells me tales of his pickup game victories at his fancy gym in Paradise Valley.

“I was on fire today,” he told me a few weeks ago.  “I almost scored every point.  I ended every game with the same shot. I’d drive right, bump the guy with my left shoulder, and shoot right over him. Those skinny dudes can’t handle that shit.”

I didn’t “teach him” that move, but that’s exactly what I did to him when he was 12…

And, you know, I may have hit him with a tennis ball or two.

I know I’m a terrible person…

But I was never as tough on him as his mama — Jesus with those Savages.

19 replies »

  1. I refuse to play a sport of any kind with my kid for just this reason; he’s 5’8″ and only 12. I’ll still chuck things at his head…I think it helps keep him in line, but no sports for me. Should the two of us take a spill, I’m not recovering. I’m not worried about the physical injury – it’s the ego that concerns me. OK, the snapping of my limbs is a deterrent, too. But mostly the ego.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The deepest bruise is always to the ego. Wise to let that little ape wonder on his own. I left a lot of physical scars on my kid, but never slowed down his ego… He’s got the self-confidence of a sociopath.

      Liked by 1 person

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