An open letter to my son, whom I recently thought was totally going to get his ass whupped by a girl

Yes, I realize these photos are very blurry, but that's only because I don't really know how to use a camera. Sorry.

Dear Zan,

For a few moments this past weekend, I was fairly certain that, through no fault of your own, you were about to get your ass thoroughly kicked by a girl.

But let’s back up a bit.

A week ago this past Saturday, you had your first wrestling meet, and I am forever scarred by this experience, because it turns out that it is terribly unnerving to watch your 7-year-old son fighting for his life.

To be completely honest, I’d rather you weren’t participating in this sport. I think it is way too intense for someone your age. Of course, I could just be projecting … because I know that the 7-year-old me would not have been even remotely capable of handling an activity that began like this:

I am inclined to say that I would have wet myself and run off the mat before the ref had a chance to blow the starting whistle, but to say that would be to give my childhood self entirely too much credit, because I can assure you with great certainty that there’s absolutely no way in hell I’d have even gotten in the car to go to the meet.

It wasn’t my idea, this whole wrestling thing. In fact, I dissented when the notion first was raised, but Mommy thought it would be good for you to have a winter sport that you could participate in, and basketball doesn’t float your boat, so when you expressed an interest in wrestling, we decided to let you give it a try.

I initially was under the (apparently misguided) impression that your involvement would be limited to learning how to wrestle during twice-weekly practice sessions, and that you wouldn’t actually be competing in formal, gladiator-like matches. When you were offered a chance to participate in your first meet, however, you wanted in. (I consider this further proof that there was a terrible mix-up with my sperm at the fertility clinic where you were conceived.)

My discomfort with your involvement in this sport is exacerbated by the fact that competitors primarily are matched up based not on age nor experience nor maturity, but on weight … and you are startlingly large for your age, which makes it difficult for the coaches to find other first-year wrestlers in your weight class. This explains why you were pitted against older, more-experienced kids for two of the three matches you wrestled in during your first-ever meet … one of whom, we learned after the fact, was the son of the opposing team’s coach … the same coach whom we had made sure at the start of the meet knew you had never before competed in a wrestling match.

It probably will surprise you not very much to learn that Opposing Coach’s son had oodles more wrestling experience than you, and that he exerted upon you far more force and fury than you had experienced during your first two matches. His assault included lots of forearm to your face, which resulted in you taking a blow to the nose and ending up with a bloody lip … and is it wrong for a 41-year-old man to want to kick the shit out of a little kid? (To be fair, I also wanted to kick the shit out of the seemingly stoned referee and, most of all, the douchetastic Opposing Coach, who apparently decided to use your inexperience as an ego boost for his wretched little incubus offspring.)

All of which raises an important point, and that is: I am not cut out to be a “wrestling parent.” My psyche is too fragile, my meathead quotient is too low, and my tolerance for seeing my son struggling through a mock life-and-death battle without being able to grab his opponent by the neck whilst screaming “Get off of him, you big meanie!” is practically nonexistent. And that is why, when you came off the mat shedding tears of frustration following your match against Opposing Coach’s son (I was amazed you toughed it out all the way to the end), I was more than ready to shout “Amen!” if you had at that point chosen to announce that your wrestling career was over.

Much to my amazement, however, you did no such thing … so I instead offered you lots of praise and encouragement, and told you how brave you were, and how proud of you I was. (I also offered you several opportunities to gracefully bow out of the sport, none of which you took.)

Which brings us to your second meet, this past Saturday.

It turned out that your first match also was the first match of the day on mat #1. (The meets are a complete melee of utter chaos as teams from several towns all wrestle simultaneously on four different mats while hordes of parents and siblings and wrestlers awaiting their turn fill every available open space.) When we arrived at that mat, a wrestler from one of the opposing teams was warming up. A girl wrestler. The only one we’ve ever seen. And all I will say about her is that I’m pretty sure daddy wanted a son, because … well, this video is a fairly accurate reenactment of you and I watching her warm up:

Actually, I’m not sure if you even noticed her when we first arrived, but your mother and I most certainly did … and as we locked eyes with each other, we telepathically said in unison: “Oh dear sweet Christ, our son is about to get his ass handed to him by a girl while his friends look on, and this is going to be a disaster of epic fucking proportions not only because of the amount of psychological damage it will inflict upon him, but also because we so badly can not afford the voluminous amount of therapy this incident is going to necessitate in the years to come.”

So you can imagine the gargantuan sigh of relief we both let loose when it turned out that she actually was wrestling in the second match (which she won, handily), and that you were paired up with another boy, whom you pinned for a quick, confidence-building victory.

Thank GAWD.

You also won two of your three subsequent matches — one by pin, and one by points, and both of which saw you pretty evenly matched in terms of your opponent’s size and skill level (and gender. Just sayin’.). Your one defeat came at the hands of a more experienced, slightly heavier kid, and you didn’t fare too badly … and you agreed with me when I said that tough matches like that are actually a good thing, because you learn more from them than from easy wins.

Afterward, you and I celebrated your excellent performance by going out for lunch, during which I had to will myself to not get too mushy and sentimental on you. This was no easy feat, because, quite frankly, I am in awe of you, my son. My son, who seems to be well-adjusted and supremely more confident than I ever was as a child, and who not only is willing to try new and challenging and intimidating things, but who actually seems to enjoy doing so.

Basically, you’re my hero, and I love you, and I am infinitely proud of you and honored to be your father.

I love you, Buddy Boy.

Love,

Daddy

PS: Is it baseball season yet? Because I really don’t have the temperament for this wrestling shit.

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28 Comments

  1. Christina
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Cutest. Post. Ever.

  2. Krista T
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    You know… I started reading this post by giggling, but by the end… I’m totally tearing up. I hate you. ;) All I can hope is that I also have the parenting grace to guide my child to be stronger in areas of her life that I was afraid and weak in my own childhood. Isn’t that what parenting is all about? Leading them into situations that we ourselves have not successfully crossed, and hope that we have given them the tools to build their own bridges, farther than we ourselves have gone, standing on the near bank, and cheering them on?

  3. Posted January 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    I have been in exacrly this position. We circumvetned it by successfully fattenng our son up so that there was never a girl in his weight category. We reasoned that the psychological damage of being obese was less traumatic than if a girl beat him.

    He lost all the weight eventually and wrestled in high school when all the boys wanted to wrestle the girls but, by then, the girls no longer wanted to wrestle (except for one lunatic) So, it all worked out.
    Susan´s most recent blog post: Drunken Monkeys With a Sledge Hammer -or- How My Family Coped with Minor Adversity and Avenged John Wayne at The Same TimeMy Profile

  4. Uncle Jason
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Jon, this is just awesome that he is wrestling! I don’t remember wrestlers being the meathead kids. They were the quiet types who if anyone screwed with would have said bully in a figure four leg lock crying. I think that it is great that you are supporting his interest in this!

  5. Posted January 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    What an awesome dad you are to support your son in all in endeavors – even though you don’t “get” it. And what an awesome boy you have for being willing to try new things!
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: Its a wonder I dont drink moreMy Profile

  6. Just Jill
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Good on you, Dad! A couple of things I really related to – your awesome description of the parental instinct to protect your child from the life and death fight, and, baseball season. Sigh. Yeah, good old baseball. It honest to god cannot get here soon enough.
    And I LOVED the silent conversation you had with Wonder Woman upon seeing the girl wrestler. HIGH-larious!!
    I need to share your blog with my husband; he’ll totally relate to you. I imagine the two of you getting together, having a few beers, and becoming big bawl bags while talking about your kids.

  7. Posted January 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Great Dad! Good for your son! I love reading about your wonderful family. All the best to you. (and we can’t wait for baseball season either! although we are Yankees fans in our house… ;-) )

  8. Posted January 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Loved this.
    I wrestled from 9th through 12th grade and knew the “Visionquest” scene you attached well. Wrestling tends to bring out some of the folks who can’t/won’t play other sports, so there was always that “I can’t lose to the dude with one leg/no legs/one arm/no vision” feeling at the beginning of every tournament. And, if you were one of the lighter weights, there was always the concern about wrestling some chick. Luckily, I never drew such a foe (chicks…I did have some handicapped folks here and there), but I can see how it would be demoralizing. If your boy does draw a chick, and if she does happen to win, just tell him she’s juicing and a cheater. That’ll make him feel better for sure.
    Muskrat´s most recent blog post: increase the peaceMy Profile

  9. Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Aw, this is the cutest post ever. Your son sounds amazing.
    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}´s most recent blog post: The Family DinnerMy Profile

  10. Posted January 27, 2011 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    That first pic up there is ADORBS! Ehem, I mean, super manly. *squeee!*

  11. Kimmee
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I have no idea how I came across your website, but you totally crack me up. I laughed out loud when I began reading this one, and by the end I was wiping my tears at work. Thanks for a day Brightner.

  12. Linda
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    …..”To be fair, I also wanted to kick the shit out of the seemingly stoned referee and, most of all, the douchetastic Opposing Coach, who apparently decided to use your inexperience as an ego boost for his wretched little incubus offspring.”

    Delurking after enjoying your blog for awhile. The sentence above is priceless. Your son is lucky to have you for a Dad IMHO.

  13. Posted January 27, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    This is so sweet! No wonder your son is so well adjusted and brave! He has an amazing set of parents who instill in him courage and a sense of adventure. Very cool.

  14. Jamie, Mom of 3
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I had the same type of fear when my son chose football as his sport of choice. His 1st year playing tackle football was 6th grade. I think the 1st time I heard the helmets crack together, I felt a little faint… But they were un defeated that year and the boys got to be coached by a former NFL player. I’ve come to be less anxious and more enthusiastic now that he’s gotten a good couple years under his belt. Freshmen football in the fall. Can’t wait!

  15. Posted January 27, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I’m SO glad my kid doesn’t have a sports-minded bone in his body. There’s no way I could have contained myself in your situation.

    GREAT post.

  16. Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I would have damn near died, but not before ripping Asshole Coach’s head off. Good for you! And good for your son! :D
    Brandi C.´s most recent blog post: 2011 Blizzard Bloghop-Hosted by Household6DivaMy Profile

  17. Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I am so with you. I hated it when my brothers wrestled, but we were from Iowa so everybody wrestled (not me I only played awkward 6th grade girls softball where our team name was the Tulips…yeah talk about therapy). Anyhoo…I would totally go mama bear on any kid that gave MY kid a bloody lip and some tire slashing to the obvious “I have small penis” black Hummer in the parking lot owned by said oppossing coach.

    Yeah it is better that my son plays baseball. BTW great use of incubus.

    Amy
    Amy Ro.´s most recent blog post: The One Where I Give You Too Much InformationMy Profile

  18. heidig
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    This post was hilarious – loved it!

  19. Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    I found you from The Blogess. This post is HILARIOUS!!! I have sooooo locked eyes with my husband and sworn that we sent each other the exact same thoughts.

  20. Posted January 27, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    One of my biggest fears is that my daughter will want to try wrestling because the other sports include balls being whipped in her general direction, of which seem to make her recoil. And then I’m going to have to deal with that awkward conversation on the car ride home called “Oh My God Mom, I Think I Totally Grabbed That Poor Boy’s Junk. It Was Kinda Mushy.” I so don’t have the confidence as an adult for THAT conversation, you know?
    Phoenix Rising´s most recent blog post: Thanks to The Bloggess- My Lifes Mission is Just About CompleteMy Profile

  21. Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    O. M. G. I totally know what you mean – my little brother wrestled in high school and I *HATED* going to matches. My adreniline would get going as much as – maybe more so! – than my brother’s. Ugh.

    Totally done with dooce – reading DS from now on. You’re much funnier now than she has become.

  22. Posted January 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD this is why my nine-year-old son SWIMS during the Pennsylvania winter :-)

    You are a brave man. You too, Daddy Scratches.
    Sandra Dee´s most recent blog post: newsflashi didnt die last night!!!My Profile

  23. Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    You are a hero too, for not letting your own perspective get in the way of him enjoying this activity. Although I am with you. I hope my son like track. Cross country. Very little hand to hand combat in cross country.
    MidLifeMama´s most recent blog post: Snow fatigue and parenting stylesMy Profile

  24. Posted February 4, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Excuse me, Daddy Scratches, but just what, in god’s name, is wrong with a boy being beaten by a girl in sports? Is it because most people think girls are supposed to be dainty, flowery, and weak, and boys are supposed to be tough, strong, and macho? I’m sorry, but as the strong, muscular mother of a girl whom I hope will not suffer from the barely concealed currents of machoism running rampant in our supposedly liberated society, I resent your entry and wish you had taken the opportunity to point out that NOTHING is wrong with a girl kicking a boy’s ass in wrestling.
    Isabel Blakely´s most recent blog post: HAPPYMy Profile

  25. Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to laugh at how the angry poster’s recent blog entry is HAPPY.
    Dianne´s most recent blog post: Home again- home again- yippty yapMy Profile

  26. LeAnn Shelton
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    It’s a nice blog post, and I respect the concern and support you have for your son. I just wonder why you would protect him from “a girl”. His friends would likely only have mocked “the girl” and called her an assortment of vulgarities, reaffirming his “boyness” by assuring him she was a freak. Of course she couldn’t be a real girl. Real girls can’t beat real boys? Happens all the time. Somewhere, sometime, at some point, he will get his ass handed to him by a girl. He needs to prepare for life, no matter who the opponent is.

  27. Posted April 18, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Just found your blog and love it!! I really do! This was awesome. I laughed so hard at the girl training like the guy in the video. Too awesome. Your son kicks butt!
    Holly from 300 Pound´s most recent blog post: Being willing to failMy Profile

  28. julie
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    “and is it wrong for a 41-year-old man to want to kick the shit out of a little kid?”

    No more so than a 41 year old woman. I can relate. I think it is a very good indicator that you are going to be a very successful parent!

    Funny, I kinda tried to get my son interested in wrestling. I thought he would do well, as he is long and lean and strong. Thankfully (after reading this) he wasn’t interested. In hindsight it was probably very lucky for me.

    “Basically, you’re my hero, and I love you, and I am infinitely proud of you and honored to be your father.”

    Yes, that exactly, times 2. Well, except for the “father: part, insert “mommy” and you have spoken from my heart with this entire piece!

    I am so glad I followed you home! ;)

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