Monday, January 3, 2011

Post 102 About Me Getting Old

"Hey Dad, can you take us somewhere so we can Parkour?"

My son, he wants to do Parkour now. Damn. It was just a few short months ago when he was banned from video games, partially because I wanted him to get off his butt and start being active. Now he wants to Parkour, I'd rather he go play Madden.

I don't know at what point I became an old man, after all, I still have a hard time thinking of myself as an adult. In my head I have stayed perpetually 17.  But watching my kids growing up has certainly made me feel old. There are a few teenagers in the house now. If they don't have anything to do they'll sleep until 4 in the afternoon - wake up, go to the kitchen, complain that there isn't anything to eat, dirty seven dishes without eating and then ask for money - so they can buy food. That's just what kids do.

"When I was your age," I will say, "I got to go to Shoney's every few months - If I was lucky." That's mostly true. It was generally up to me to find something in the house and make do. How else would I be so familiar with powdered milk and potted meat? I learned quite by accident several things that definitely do not go together in the kitchen - example, you can't use cinnamon as a substitute for chili powder. Trust me.

Somehow though, my awesome stories of my youth fall on deaf ears. To them I'm just an ATM that rambles a lot before I fork over the cash. Where did it all go so wrong?

It seems like it was only yesterday that I would hold my son on my knee and he would ask me endless questions about what my life was like when I was his age. I would entertain him with stories of getting lost in the woods, of falling out of moving vehicles (no one wore seat belts when I was a kid), getting attacked by a wild turkey, or a domesticated raccoon. He wanted every detail and I was happy to oblige. 

He's at a point now that I think he'd like to hear my stories about being arrested in a foreign country, drinking Wild Turkey, falling out of moving vehicles, cutting school to play with handguns, and dating strippers. 

But again, he'd rather not hear about it. I guess it's all fine really. It's part of getting older. Which brings me back to what always is in my thoughts: Getting old. I'm not sure when I became an old man, but I did. My bones ache, I'm keenly interested in my bowel movements and I'm always preoccupied with how my lawn is doing. I feel like I've experienced all the adventure I ever will, the rest of my life will be me retelling the same stories over and over. 

I think it's that last part that gets me, I have no desire to actually do anything else, but a burning desire to have done much more. It makes me wish I could just make stuff up.

You know that movie First Blood? The Sly Stallone movie from the early 80's? Totally based on a weekend I had in Gatlinburg. That seems easy enough. Just make it up and try to sell it. How else can I get his attention?

I guess I sort of lie already, I tell the kids that I was a straight A student at their age (true - if you look at my end of year report card horizontally - I got A's in P.E. every grading period). I may have mentioned I could dunk a basketball (also true - if the goal was lowered down to eight feet...and I had something to jump off of... and land on... and the basketball was replaced by a tennis ball). Still, those are the sorts of lies every parent tells. I think it's expected. 

But back to my son's Parkour wish,  I don't know if you know what that is, but here is brief youtube video to give you an idea:

It only take a few seconds of watching to see why I'm horrified. So my kid wants me to drop him off so he can try to backflip off of buildings and onto moving vehicles.

This is the same kid that I had to rush to the emergency room because he had some Wile E. Coyote type of incident in his bedroom and ended up crashing through his bedroom window. He wasn't trying to do something stupid. He was just trying to walk from his bed to his desk.

I'm not so sure he's cut out for Parkour.

After his incident we were at the emergency room  and it was with mangled and bloody limbs that he begged for a cell phone. I, as any concerned parent would, watched in horror as he struggled to dial, he persevered though, and managed to call almost every person he ever met to tell them how awesome of an accident he had and that he was totally getting stitches in the emergency room.

And like a bolt of lightening it dawned on me - as I write this I mean, not last year at the emergency room - He is tired of my stories not because they are boring, but because he wants to start telling his own. 

I'll be damned, that lifetime of me telling him all this crazy crap that I did when I was a kid/teenager is coming back to haunt me. He is taking my half-truths and slightly exaggerated exploits of my youth and is trying to one-up me. Geez. I might be in serious trouble.


Zachary Cochran said...

Good thoughts.

And just a word on parkour. It doesn't equal hospital visits. I've been doing parkour for 1 1/2 years now with no broken bones and just a few scrapes. If he really wants to do it, encourage him to find a class first -- like with these guys:

Mister Sharaf said...

nice post

Anonymous said...

Old is hard but when he gets there he'll want to hear your stories again so he can pass them on to his kids. But you are spot on about wanting to make his own stories and ultimately isn't that what we want (minus the emergency room visits).

Rusty Webb said...

Zachary - Honestly, I've tried to at least convince him to take a look at gymnastics first. He's nervous because he is afraid he'll be the only member of the class that is his age. But we're supposed to at least go look. The hills of Tennessee don't have as many urban enviroments as I would expect free running/parkour enthusiasts would like. I'm still nervous.

I agree, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, that in the end I do want him to have his own experiences and have his own stories to tell - I just don't know if I'm ready for that process to have already begun.