Getting Through

August 12th, 2014 § Leave a Comment

I remember this one time my Father was so pissed, he chucked a football at me. And it wasn’t like he was planning on chucking a football. I’m thinking it was probably the first and last time he ever threw one. Just prior to chucking it, he did that spastic search for something within reach to clobber me with. To his disappointment, the only thing within arms length was this foreign, oblong ball. It was either that or try to contain whatever it was already blowing out sideways. He opted to make due.

If my memory serves, I believe the thing that got him unhinged was my less than average academic performance. By the 5th grade, I was a C student with a couple Ds sprinkled in. Over three years in the States meant the immigrant grace period had expired. Fluency achieved; no more excuses.

I don’t recall most of the conversation, except his last appeal. It embedded in my memory, I believe because of the unusually revealing nature of it. It was uncharacteristic of my Father to show me his heart, not even a little bit. The statement I remember was that he’d put himself through all this work, not so we could have a decent life but so we could have a better life than he. He wanted me and my brother to exceed him – go beyond him. Isn’t this every Father’s dream?

As he showed me his heart, I gave no sign of hearing. I sat there with my head down as I’d done countless times before. No movement. No gaze upward. Nothing to assure him that this desperate, out of character plea had penetrated. As far as he could tell, nothing was getting through. I think that’s when he snapped. Helpless and hopeless, he blew.

As a parent of teenagers, I must accept that I cannot make my son or daughter believe anything. I can talk incessantly, reason, stand on my head, present photographic evidence, whatever … nothing’s guaranteed. They can even agree with what you’re saying, but not get what you’re trying to get through. We don’t get that power. Learn to accept it or you’ll be chucking footballs.

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