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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Guest Post: Another Father-Son Relationship Story


Hey everyone, your favorite Buckler is back! Totally joking, Christian is letting me use his blog for a class project. Hopefully you find me as entertaining as him!

Let me start by saying one thing: I’ve always loved my dad, and I always will. This post is not meant to disparage him in any way; it is merely meant to acknowledge both the differences and the constants in our relationship since I moved away from our house and to college.

            To understand the differences, you must first understand my family and my background. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas with my mom, dad, brother, and sister. I’m the oldest of the siblings; my younger brother is a senior in high school this year and my younger sister is a freshman. As children, both my brother and I were brought into the world of sports by my dad. He grew up the same way despite his diminutive stature (he graduated high school a little over five feet tall and right around 100 pounds), wrestling as well as playing football, soccer, and baseball. Because of his passion for sports throughout his childhood, he was able to convince me and Paul to play soccer when we were just starting school. Although I’m positive he wouldn’t have been very happy had we not wanted to play, we never had that issue. Both Paul and I excelled on our respective teams because of our extensive practice. Rather than watch cartoons like some of our friends, we begged our dad to take us to the park and play soccer with us. Our dining room at home doubled as a soccer field with a small rubber Fisher Price basketball, despite our mother’s insistence that something would be broken (the chandelier lights frequently did, but she was usually quick to forgive). Soccer soon gave way to basketball (also indoors on a Fisher Price hoop, I should probably thank my mother after this), football, and baseball. My dad joined in on almost everything we played, happy to have an outlet in which to interact with us. It is through this outlet that I grew with my brother and my dad. My family background is not defined by a love of sports, but it can easily be described in such terms.

            In high school, the sports connection I had with my dad continued. He went to all of my games (basketball, soccer, hockey, and track meets), frequently yelling encouragement despite my objections. He ensured that I was a model student athlete; attending all team events (mandatory and non) while remaining an honors student. I was kicked out of a hockey practice once because of a miscommunication with my coach, who thought I was playing with a puck when I shouldn’t have been. I was adamant that I was in the right, to the point that I was willing to skip the next day’s game because I didn’t want to apologize. My dad informed me that there were no options; I was apologizing to both the coach and my teammates for my behavior. While I rarely strayed this far from my dad’s motto of leading by example, he put me back in my place when it was necessary.

            Outside of sports, however, our relationship was sometimes strained. As teenagers are wont to do, I frequently spent entire days in my room with the door closed, watching TV and spending hours online. My dad, the ultimate family man, hated it. His idea of a family consisted of spending free time together whenever possible, something my brother and I rarely wanted to do. Why would I want to watch a marginal TV show or play a board game with them when I could watch hours of YouTube videos or Scrubs marathons in the privacy of my room? My dad and I frequently fought about what he described as my new “hermit” lifestyle. He was much more strict than my mother (my siblings and I were always grateful when my mom was the only one around to discipline us), who only became bothered when I was in my room neglecting my chores. As the son of a military man, my dad grew up in many different places. My Uncle Marty was actually born in Japan, to go along with multiple others born in Canada and different areas around the United States. He moved so much that his brothers and sisters had to be his best friends, as he always had to leave his old friends behind. This is what (in my opinion) led my dad to discourage our desire for endless independence. He obviously wanted us to lead our own lives and above all be happy, but he believed that our happiness depended on a close knit family. None of this is to say that I resented my dad in high school. I loved him just as he loved me, and we got along perfectly fine more often than not.

            As I moved on to my next chapter in life, I felt that I would begin to drift away from my family and especially my dad. As high school valedictorian and a graduate of Texas A&M with a 3.9 GPA, my mom was able to give me tips and helping points to help succeed in college. As a student of only a few years of community college, I wondered if my dad would think that we were growing apart. Luckily, our relationship has only strengthened. I talk to him at least two or three times a week, usually more. We talk about sports, school, work, and family. My brother, who has made a living doing things at a far lower level than he is capable of (a story for another day) is a frequent topic of discussion. My dad has embraced TCU as if he went here himself, watching every football game and talking smack to coworkers who graduated from Baylor or UT. Golfing, a tradition that began late in high school, has bloomed into something truly special for me. Because TCU is so close to home, I get the chance to spend a day golfing with my dad (and sometimes brother) every few weeks.

As a freshman and sophomore, I was only involved in Intramural sports at TCU. Therefore, my dad and I were only able to discuss our golf outings and professional sports. After I joined TCU’s reignited club ice hockey team, my dad returned to his hobby of being a youth hockey fanatic. He asks me about the hockey team at least as often as he does my classes, if not more. As grateful as I am to have hockey as an outlet in my life again, I’m just as grateful to have another opportunity to have my dad cheer for me.

This project was easy for me because of the way two of my strongest values interact with each other. My family is ultimately my greatest value, and our shared love of sports (and really, any competition) is something that has made me the man I am today.
 
 
From left to right: my girlfriend Jordan, me, my dad, my friend David, and my sister Emily