Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Day Fearless

Fear was my father's constant companion and its' dark shadow casts a chilling message that I hear to this day, "Be careful you might get hurt," or "Get off that ladder, you'll fall."  I take few risks physically and I think of myself as a klutz.  As a mother, I did not want my children to lug this message-a heavy burden with them into adulthood. Watching my children carry a confidence and an understanding of their physical strength and capabilities helps me to keep my mouth shut, most of the time.

One day, I do remember playing football with the neighborhood boys.  We hadn't begun to play yet, when two brothers started hurling insults about my weight.  I think I was about eight years old, in that chubby state that I never seemed to grow out of for long.  They always seemed to be picking on me and reminded me how inferior I was to them, since I was a girl and a fat one at that.  My backyard afforded just a big enough flat surface at the bottom of a slight slope of grass to play football.  I remember the heckling and frustration I felt as a result.  Normally, we played touch football, but we had collectively decided that we would allow tackling.  Determined and fearless, I  had a plan to tackle hard.  The youngest brother who really was a bit of a wimpish bully was carrying the ball.  My focus was to wrap my arms around his legs and trip him up.  That will send him and his brother a message to not mess with me, I thought.   The next thing I knew we both hit the ground with a thud, my nose taking the brunt of the impact.  In like motion and timing, we quickly got to our feet,  leaning forward while cupping our hands to catch the stream of red.  He ran home wailing.  I quietly stepped inside my house as I glanced out the window both teams had quickly dispersed and the back yard was empty.

Telling my father about the tackle, he applied a dry compress under my upper lip to stop the bleeding. I was prone on the couch my head propped up by pillows.  My father was patiently explaining what he was doing and why.  I was mesmerized.

"This is how they do it in the locker room," he shared, his voice seemed to be filled with pride.   That day, I felt a special connection with my father.  During those hours, he cared for me we never spoke of fear because we had it all under control. We were both fearless.

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