April 30, 2007
Originally published September 25, 2003
Here is the tail-end of an email I received today about Quinton and football.
Give him time to be a kid, Rob. Adulthood comes all too soon and most often, all too painfully. Let him be to figure things out for himself, too.
JB wrote some nice things about life in general and kids in particular in the rest of that email. But he was writing from a different perspective than what I have witnessed myself. Here was my reply:
I just want to see Quinton be serious, JB. Football was MY game and I love it with a passion. Yeah, I got hurt playing it and some of those injuries still nag me today. You know what? IT WAS WORTH IT!
My entire point is that he DOES NOT have time to be a kid. He's had a goddam part-time job on top of school since he was six years old. You know when he gets to be a kid? When he is with ME!
I let him. I really believe that he likes visiting with me for that reason. One thing the BC has not been able to program out of his head is his love for me.
When I got out of my... uh, "difficulties" two years ago, I still had a restraining order hanging over my head, so I had my brother call the house to see if I could visit with Quinton. I had not seen my son in 45 days, and he never returned a reply to the letters I wrote him every day. The BC said that she would speak with me and not call the sheriff.
"Can I pick up Quinton and take him over to Mom's house today? I'll bring him back at 6:00."
"What makes you think he WANTS to see you, Rob? He knows what you did and he knows where you've been. He is scared to death of you right now."
"Let me talk to him," I asked. (aside:"Quinton, it's your daddy. Do you want to talk to him?" I hear the phone rattle.)
"DADDEEEE! Are you gonna come see me? I've missed you a lot!" So much for the BC's opinion of my relationship with my son.
He was six years old at the time. I picked him up shortly thereafter and went over to mama's house. Quinton and I took a walk in the woods and I told him stories about tree-forts and adventures I had back there when I was just a little bit older than he was. We got rained on coming back to mama's and we ducked under an awning at Hesse Elementary to wait out the rain.
When it was over, we walked down the sidewalk on Old Montgomery road, and Quinton passed under a tree with low-hanging branches. "Hey, Quinton!" I said. "Want to see a dirty trick?"
"Sure," he replied. I grabbed a limb and shook the tree. He got soaked with raindrops. From there, all the way back to mama's house, he kept trying to play the same dirty trick on me. He'd find a tree where HE could reach a bottom limb and look down at the sidewalk. "Daddy, you really need to come look at THIS," he said, trying to lure me into the trap.
I would walk up, grab a limb he couldn't reach and shake the tree with him under it. Yeah, I wet his young ass AGAIN. "AW MAN!" he always said.
"You're dealing with a Tall Dog, son. A Tall Dog ain't easy to fool. You play with a Tall Dog, you get bit!"
That was a very good day. When we got back to mama's house, Quinton was soaking wet and I was dry. "If y'all got caught in the rain, why is Quinton wet and daddy dry?" mama asked.
I got bit by the Tall Dog," Quinton replied.
And the BC really thought that he would be afraid of me. That woman doesn't know anything about my relationship with my boy, even though a lot of it happened right under her nose. But I was never a soccer dad.
Therefore, I HAD to be a bad parent.
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