• People Talk and My Ear Bleeds


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    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

    This morning, while doing P90X, my son, who awoke early, thought the scene of daddy doing sit-ups in the middle of the room was hilarious so he jumped onto my chest and effectively ended my workout session. While I tried to do crunches, he hung on like Curious George (who he happened to be watching at the same time), giggling and unknowingly taunting. "Why can't I be healthy and fit anymore like my son?" I thought.

    But immediately my flight of ideas landed on this: what does my son think of me? I love my son, and don't begrudge our memory together - even if I couldn't finish today's "Ab Ripper X" - but 20 years from now, will he feel the same? As I've grown and (hopefully) matured, I see my father mirrored more and more in myself. This is a good thing. My father is a great man - honest, intelligent, kind, charismatic. And although my mother can undoubtedly delineate his faults (nobody's perfect), I'm convinced the world would be a better place if more people were like him.

    I am currently reading Open, Andre Agassi's autobiography. His depiction of his father contrasts mine.
    (p. 35)Violent by nature, my father is forever preparing for battle. He shadowboxes constantly. He keeps an ax handle in his car. He leaves the house with a handful of salt and pepper in each pocket, in case he's in a street fight and needs to blind someone. ...

    ...He boxes in his dreams, and frequently hauls off and punches my dozing mother. In the car too. ... I'm driving with my father one day, going to Cambridge, and he gets into a shouting match with another driver. My father stops his car, steps out, orders the man out of his. Because my father is wielding his ax handle, the man refuses. My father whips the ax handle into the man's headlights and taillights, sending sprays of glass everywhere.

    ... Such moments, and many more, come to mind whenever I think about telling my father that I don't want to play tennis.

    Agassi's father lived vicariously through Andre, teaching with fear, and setting an example of aggression. Those are things I definitely don't want to emulate with my son. Sure, I'd like him to achieve great things, but I want him to decide what those are.

    I guess things are off to a good start. This evening, before my son went to bed, he spontaneously came up to me on the couch and kissed me on the cheek. Then, he said, "TV, daddy!" and turned on the television for me before grabbing his pillow and heading to the bedroom. Now if he just played tennis like Andre Agassi...

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